By: Julia Cameron
Reviewed by: Leah Parkhill-Reilly
The 30th anniversary edition of The Artist’s Way is a distillation of hard-earned wisdom and surprisingly fun (and practical) tools that allow us to better access, nurture and liberate creativity for the purposes of developing art. However, it’s also a means of tapping into a stronger connection with ourselves. The premise of the book is that we are all creative; we can, however, lose track of ourselves and our innate gifts over the act of living our lives often in service to others or perhaps out of obligations (societal or self-imposed). While written 30-years ago, The Artist’s Way feels even more relevant today as we are faced with a barrage of information and inputs that might cause us to lose focus, numb ourselves or potentially give up in despair because the world is a train wreck and the AI overlords are coming (kind of kidding). This book is an incredibly useful reminder of how to ground yourself back into reality and tap into the sources of inner joy even (and perhaps ideally) without a specific goal or output in mind.
I am admittedly a fan of any book that helps tap into one’s own curiosity and creativity, however I’m often left feeling short of “how-tos” and full to the brim of aphorisms and new age-y wisdom. I was more than pleasantly surprised when I dove into this book. This book truly was an eye-opening 12-week journey full of hundreds (literally) of effective exercises designed to reconnect us with our creativity. Each chapter is designed to be completed over the course of a week and follows a theme (i.e. Identity, Power, Possibility, Connection, Strength) with several exercises aligned with that theme. I found a tremendous amount of value from following the consistent exercise of “Morning Pages” which is simply three pages written long-hand first thing in the morning. It was highly effective at clearing out those pesky gremlins that tend to accumulate in my mind overnight and helped me better examine my own inner critic in a beautifully neutralized format. Having followed this routine over the course of the book, I can confirm it’s become a cemented habit that will persist. Now some may balk at “spirituality” in the title and the regular references to a God throughout the book and avoid cracking it open. That would be a miss. This is a book that’s designed to tap into your purpose, values, inner strength and wisdom, playfulness and joy. If that’s spirituality, then I am here for it.
Recommended for anyone who is leading a busy life in service of others and might need a reminder of what brings them strength and joy. A wonderful tool for coaches as well to help clients struggling with clarity on direction, purpose and inner critics.