The Artist's Way is one of those things that can seem both exciting (who doesn't want to be more creative?) but also terrifying! 12 whole weeks of your life are dedicated to completing the course with daily routines and weekly challenges and that is a commitment too far for some... so here is a list of 10 things you may want to consider before attempting it.
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1) You will be different at the end of it.
Simple as that. You can't predict how, but guaranteed, things will begin to shift in your life towards the positive. Even if you're in a relatively good place in your life that will just continue to improve. If you're in a particularly crappy place take a photo of yourself at the beginning of the course, or draw a picture depicting where you are starting from, and then after the course, look back and compare your new life to your old life. It can be surprising.
2) There's a reading deprivation
It's just for a week, but this challenge can be super intrusive for newbies as you literally are not allowed to read for one whole week. It's for VERY good reasons (think of it as a detox) but it can be very difficult to implement into most modern lives. It can be done. Planning ahead, for instance not attempting it when you're writing your dissertation, can help, but ultimately it's not meant to be convenient, and for one week it's really going to get in your way. However you will learn SO much about yourself during that week and its 100% worth it. I personally go the whole hog and even ban media and online activity of all kinds during my reading deprivation week and it's both rewarding and super difficult, but others tweak the interpretation of the reading deprevation to suit their essential needs. Some just ban books or allow themselves to check emails during work, but the better you can deprive yourself the more you'll get from it so if you can take time off from reading, do so, and enjoy the break.
3) Morning pages
Every. Single. Day. They are 'simply' 3, long hand, A4 pages of writing. Morning Pages are quite a trendy concept these days, you may have heard of the Miracle Morning which is a similar concept. Every morning before you attempt anything useful, you vent three pages of mindless brain chatter, nonsense, inner fears, notes to the self- ANYTHING that crops up in your mind into your 3 pages of writing. That's it. They don't even have to be legible. Trust me, it makes sense after a while. It takes around 30 min to complete, so many will find they need to get up half an hour earlier to fit it in and you'll need a notebook and pen too.
4) The God thing
Another sticking point for many is that spirituality is the backbone of The Artist's Way. As an Apatheist myself (someone who is finds no relevance in acknowledging or denying a God), I have managed just fine. Julia openly invites you to tailor this aspect of the course to suit you. If you have a faith then translate her ideas to fit your faith. If you are spiritual then I think you'll find her views very interesting. My spiritual background explored a whole manner of New Age beliefs and practices and this course fits in beautifully with those. If you're an Atheist or someone looking for a non-spiritual experience I recommend two things:
- Give it a go with an open mind- I've faked it myself and it doesn't do any harm albeit it can be irritating...
- Disregard it. The other tasks and concepts within the course are valid and useful in their own right. Above all do what makes you feel comfortable.
5) Prepare for conflict
It's shocking to think but I'm yet to meet a person who's done The Artist's Way and hasn't had some kind of conflict because of it. People are frightened of change. When YOU start to change, friends, family, colleagues... even complete strangers seem to be magnestised to you with their opinions on what you're doing and why you shouldn't/can't/are doing it wrong. When we change we highlight to others their own failings which they wish they could change. We trigger guilt and fear in them and it can create conflict if they feel threatened. Especially if you are in the process of standing up for yourself, detaching from bad friends or no longer acting as a doormat. The book covers this thoroughly so don't worry but just be in the look out for people trying to sabotage your positivity- they're only reflecting their own creative blockages onto you. Set an example and break free so they can follow behind.
6) Artists dates
These are another commitment of time that'll require you to take a brief 'date' with your creative self once a week. It can be as simple as collecting leaves in the woods or intense as signing up to dance classes. Check out my post on artist date ideas to get an idea about what you might like to do.
7) You might do more then just make art
People often find The Artist's Way leads them to other creative pursuits beyond their typical hobbies and interests. A lot of The Artist's Way is focused on accessing forgotten passions that have been put aside for reasons such as unsupportive parents, teachers, spouses, work, having a family, illness, depression, addiction etc. We all have them and it often surprises you when you realise what you've denied yourself. I first did The Artist's Way through the eyes of a visual artist and craftsperson. I ended up trying everything from Writing to Burlesque! So go in with your eyes open.
8) It's just the beginning and you'll probably do it again
The Artist's Way is a way of life rather then a once in a lifetime event. Many people revisit the book and repeat the course just to re-familiarize themselves with the lessons again and to just re-evaluate their lives again further down the road. Each time I've done The Artist's Way I've learnt something new and deeper about myself. I've even begun personalising the course to suit my specific needs of it. My copy of the book is so heavily annotated that I think there's more of MY writing in it now, then actual text. And I think that's what Julia wants. She doesn't want us to become slaves to the course, she wants us to use it as a tool to constantly build and encourage us independent, confident artists and creatives. When you do The Artist's Way you're making a declaration of that.
9) Collage features a lot!
This may be a minor point for some of you but as a committed Pinterest user and someone who doesn't buy magazines or newspapers very regularly, I always find the fact that the frequent use of collage as a tool in the book is a bit of a problem. If you're like me and don't have piles of magazines to rifle through and tear up I recommend planning ahead and start collecting some, maybe 20, of various genres, so you can tackle the exercises without delay. I've used Pinterest in the past as an emergency alternative, but you can't beat the joy of ripping up magazines and sticking them together into something unique and beautiful.
10) It's for all sorts of artists and creatives.
A common misconception is that The Artist's Way is for Artists or people who want to be artists. Nope. Wrong. Julia believes that everyone, all people, creative or not, are Artists. The Artist's Way is a guide for all people to connect with their unique artistic voice, whether that's Art, Writing, Dancing, Acting, Designing, Singing, Making, Sewing... I've even seen people use the tools in the book to embrace interests like car racing, horse riding, cooking, business development... things which you may not consider to be ultimately creative on the face of things but to that person that's exactly how they communicate their inner artists view point. The Artist's Way is even traditionally aimed at writers, something all of us do daily! It's been really interesting to see how people apply the lessons to their life and how diverse the word Artist and Art become. Suddenly you'll realise you've been creatively expressing yourself (or blocking yourself) in a whole myriad of ways that you've not really acknowledged before and I think that's the magic of these 12 weeks. You suddenly notice your potential. And that's all you need to succeed in life.