Photo by Ian Sane
The Artist's Way is one of the best books I have ever purchased. I had been recommended it several times before I finally went out and got it. It is a twelve-week course, with essays, exercises and tools designed to help you unblock your creativity and become a happier, more freely creative artist. It is suitable for anyone practising any form of art, or who wishes to do so. Writers, visual artists, musicians, actors, directors, comedians - all can find something useful in this book. This book does not teach you how to be creative, exactly, but it will hopefully show you how to be creative and happy, how to be creative without drugs or other addictions. It can help you shed your creative inhibitions. The Artist's Way teaches you how to let go of negative beliefs that can hold you back from realising your creative potential.
I think anyone who wants to be a artist of any variety, professional or amateur, should read it because it will help you discover what has been holding you back. It changed my life. I completed the course for the first time in 2006, and I'm doing it again now, because there is much in it that I think I need to revisit. The Artist's Way will not make you successful. You will still need to work on your craft, and learn to market yourself - none of which is covered in this book. It's more about getting going in the first place than learning to be good at what you do.
My main criticism of this book is that it is very spiritual, although not confined to one particular religion. At the start of the book Cameron says that you don't need to believe in God to follow the path in the book - but if you don't believe in God you will probably not engage with some sections of the book so well. Cameron also talks a lot about 'synchronicity' and the universe helping those who help themselves, seemingly believing that once a person has recovered their creative ability, all they need to do is create, and then they will be successful! It's very "New Age" in this way, and if you are the type of person who enjoyed The Secret and believes in the law of attraction then you will have no problems following what Cameron teaches.
I will make one point that goes against the ideas in the book - with practice, you can type your morning pages. I nearly always do, because my handwriting is appalling and I don't have room for all the notebooks I'd need to keep. When I first started doing them I hand wrote them, but my writing hand got tired quickly and I couldn't bear the thought of using up all that paper, so I trained myself to do them on the PC. As long as you can type fast enough to keep up with your thoughts it's fine!
I didn't complete The Artist's Way within the twelve weeks. I've been on week three of my second go for about a month now. If you need to start and stop, it's easy to read through the previous chapters and remind yourself of what you've missed. The main thing is keeping up with the morning pages. I've stopped writing them at various times, and when I get myself writing them again it's like coming home, and I wonder why I ever stopped. Committing to them really works.