How I Do It: Julia Cameron


Creativity isn’t just for people who
make their living making art. In her
best-seller The Artist’s Way, author,
composer and teacher Julia Cameron
says tapping into your creativity gives
life flavor. Cameron is often considered
an expert on creative practice,
and she has taught her methods
of unlocking creativity at The
Smithsonian, The New York Times and
New York Open Center. The Artist’s
Way
creativity groups have formed
across the United States and around
the world, putting her practical
creativity tools to work for men and
women in all professions.

Why do you feel it’s important for
people to tap into their creativity
and stay actively creative?

I think that unless people are tapped into
their creativity, life can become sort of a
droning experience. I think that when people
are tapped into their creativity, life has a flavor
of adventure.

I believe that we are all creative—that it’s
part of our spiritual DNA—and that in order
for us to be happy and fulfilled as people, we
need to be happy and fulfilled creatively. And
so I don’t think it’s a matter of only certain
jobs being creative; all people are creative,
and unless people are fulfilling themselves
creatively, they can feel stymied, stuck, depressed.

How do you suggest people kick-start their
creativity if they lack clear direction?

Well, there’s a basic tool that I recommend to everyone who
is trying to work on their creativity, and that is morning pages,
which are three pages of longhand morning writing about any
topic. I find that when people work with morning pages, they
are moved into working on their creative projects.

Morning pages are about anything and everything. They are
not like a journal. With a journal, you might set a specific goal:
I’m going to write everything I feel about Jeffrey. With morning
pages, Jeffrey comes and
goes. It’s like you have a little
whisk broom, and you’re
taking it into all the corners
of your consciousness.

It’s worth it to try. I would
urge people to give morning
pages a fair try. Twelve weeks
of doing them brings about a
huge change. So I would say
give it 12 weeks. I think the
pages very quickly become
positively addicting, and I
think people will notice a
huge shift in their lives.

As you work with morning
pages, you probably will
become clear as to an area
that feels challenging and
exciting to you. And that’s
how you learn where you
want to go forward. I think
that i f someone has an
interest in something, they
quite likely have a talent in
that area.

Other tools to kick-start
creativity?

There are two other tools
that I think are very valuable.
One of them is called
an artist date, and that is a one-time-a-week, festive, solo expedition
where you do something that is adventurous and pushes the
envelope a little bit and makes you feel more alive. And then the
second tool is very simple, and that’s walking. Going for about
a 20-minute walk not only stretches out your legs and body, it
stretches out your mind.

What are some of the most common blocks
to creativity?

I think people tell themselves they don’t have enough time. They
keep waiting for a vast savannah of unmarked time to be creative in,
and, of course, most of us never get a vast savannah of unmarked
time. So I try to teach tools that allow people to be creative in the life
they’ve actually got.

I also think, a lot of times, people will say it’s too expensive. And
what they don’t realize is that, very often, support can come to them
without their spending money. If you want to direct a feature fi lm,
you may be looking for more money, but many forms of creativity
actually don’t require a cash outlay.

I would say perfectionism is a very common block. If you have a
room full of people and you say, “Number from one to 10 [on paper],
and ask yourself, ‘If I didn’t have to do it perfectly, I’d try….’ ” People
will be able to come up with 10
adventures they are not allowing
themselves to have because they
believe they have to do them
perfectly. And the minute you take
away perfectionism, the minute you
say, Anything worth doing is worth
doing badly
, people begin to have
more freedom. And, in fact, when
they allow themselves to try something,
it often turns out far better
than they could have imagined.

And I think people are worried
about what other people will
think, what their family will think.
Morning pages teach us to be
worried about what we ourselves
think. And we may find that it’s
important for us to take another
risk in order to feel we have
self respect.

How does tapping into
your creativity positively
benefit you?

I think that when people are
dodging their creativity, there’s
an inner sense of failure. I think
that we respect ourselves when we
take risks, and I think that when
we dodge risks, we don’t respect
ourselves. When you start to work
on your creativity, you are, in effect, working on your whole life.

I feel like my faith and my creativity are inseparable. I believe
creativity is an act of faith. You know, you have to have faith to step
forward onto a blank page. You have to have faith to step forward onto
a stage or to put paint up to an easel. So I believe that as I improve my
conscious contact with a power greater than myself, I am improving
my creativity. And as I improve my creativity, I am improving my
conscious contact.

Julia Cameron is the author of more
than 25 books, including the international
best-seller
The Artist’s Way,
which has been published in a dozen
languages and has sold more than two
million copies. Over the last 35 years,
Cameron has written novels, short
stories, plays, musicals, screenplays
and poetry. Her latest book is
Faith
and Will: Weathering the Storms
of Our Spiritual Lives. Join The
Artist’s Way online creativity groups
at www.theartistsway.com.

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