The Artist’s Way revisited

When we last left off, we were making our way along the icy, snowy boardwalk through the Peatlands at Quail Hollow State Park.  Some sections, as you can see from the above photo, were relatively clear of ice and snow.

So.  How was your weekend?  Did you get out and do something fun?  Or stay in and relax?  Either way, I hope it was restorative for you.  Weekends, I think, ought to be restorative in some way.  Soothing, energizing, health-giving, recuperative, invigorating, playful, spirited… all those things and more.

I could tell you more about the hike, but there really isn’t much to tell.  We walked.  We took our time on the icy parts.  We took our time on the muddy parts.  Nobody lost a boot in the suction of the mud.  It was wonderful.  The light was amazing.  It has something to do with the angle of the sun in winter, but I don’t know enough about it to explain the how’s and why’s.

The woods made magical by Photoshop.

What I really want to write about today is The Artist’s Way.  I got stuck on Week 4 of the course back in October after M’s stepmother died.  Over the past couple of weeks I finished reading the book.  I decided that was the best I could do.  The book will now be donated to the library.

To be honest with you, after all the struggles and persistence with The Artist’s Way, I still don’t care much for it.  Your mileage may vary.  This was my third or fourth (and final) attempt.  I know there are many who love it.  I can understand why even though it wasn’t all that and a bag of chips for me.

I like the morning pages.  From time to time I find myself benefiting from the morning pages.  There are days when the morning pages result in ah-ha! moments that bring insights to certain situations.  Other days the morning pages function as a to-do list or a way to express (and let go of) snarkiness and other emotions.  And yes, there are days when my brain turns off the usual spillage of words and all  I can do is sit there and stare at the blank page.  I have written quite a few pages about having nothing to write about.  It’s like a Seinfeld episode in the Moleskine I’m using for my morning pages.  In other words, a show about nothing.  That’s okay.  It happens.  Writing, like life, is not always a big adventure.  The artist’s dates have been fun, too, and have inspired me to try a variety of things that are outside of my usual comfort zone.

So many downed trees since our last visit to Quail Hollow. They are like sculptures in the woods.

I have to admit, though, that I don’t care much for Julia Cameron’s style.  I find her to be almost bullying in the way she anticipates resistance with the ultimate answer for that resistance being “you are a blocked creative!”  If only you would get with the program, you would see that The Artist’s Way will break down that resistance and open up the flood gates of creativity!  I disagree, but I also know there are many who don’t.

I’m not saying Cameron might not be right.  In some instances, it’s possible.  In other instances, I chalk it up to differences in our points of view on life, the universe, and everything.  (A nod and a thank you to the late Douglas Adams.)  Very often my resistance is directed more towards her style than the task at hand.  Whatever the case, I realize there is no way for me to explain my resistance without those who have completed the course smiling and nodding in an understanding yet smug way because this is part of Week Whatever and to be expected.

Reaching for the sky

I have come to know through much experience that when I resist something, I need to sit with that resistance, say hello, how do you do, and get to know it.  I have done that, and decided to keep plodding along with The Artist’s Way.  Some of my best teachers in life were people whose style I didn’t like or appreciate.  Learning is not a matter of liking.  It’s a matter of doing.  There is learning in the resistance if you’re willing to work with it and past it.  It’s a bit like hiking on the muddy trails here in the Bogs.  It’s worth the effort.

A startling patch of green in the January woods.

All in all, I gained a lot from the book.  The morning pages and artist’s dates alone are worth the price of admission.  There were some other exercises I enjoyed and benefited from as well.  I am happy to be finished with the book.  I am happiest about working my way through and realizing that I am not a failure just because I disagree.  I think that’s where I would say I had the biggest problem with the course; the insistence that disagreement is about blockage rather than technique.  And even that led to learning for me.  I am grateful.

Through the woodland swamp

One of the wonderful gifts I was given by restarting and plodding my way through the book was the desire to write again rather than rely solely on images.  I posted a comment over at Kathy’s place about how I tend to hide behind my photos.  I’m gently making way out from behind them, and enjoying every moment of once again playing with words.  Most of my play is taking place in a handwritten journal.  There is something satisfying about the slowness of writing by hand, with a pen on paper, instead of the speed of typing.  Some of my play is at my other blog in the form of small stones.  I suspect some of the handwritten stuff will make it to type somewhere or another.  Eventually.

I’m pretty much rambled out for now.  Thanks so much for dropping by and joining me on my hike through the woods and through The Artist’s Way.  If you haven’t attempted The Artist’s Way and you were giving it some thought, I hope I haven’t discouraged you.  Even if you’re like me and find yourself not liking the author’s style, there is still much to be gained from the book.

34 Comments on “The Artist’s Way revisited”

  1. Martina says:

    Robin, I Iove the photos. So glad I’m not alone in my thinking when it comes to the book I had to have some decade+ ago and never managed to plow through. At least you learned something from it. Kudos for trying and discovering more about yourself. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Martina. 🙂

      It’s good to hear that others have had similar thoughts and struggles with the book. For a while I thought everyone who attempted it came out the other side full of praise.

  2. Hah. So glad you said all this. I’ve had similar issues with The Artist’s Way. To be honest, and this may seem a weird comment about a book that is written to spark your creativity, I found her style very left-brained! My favourite part of her books is all the quotes! Okay, I’ll be quiet now. I know a number of people who love her approach and that’s great. If it helps you step into your creative genius, go for it, i say.
    Love the ‘magical’ picture here. Well, you know me and magic!
    walk in beauty.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Joss. 🙂

      I didn’t realize until I started reading comments here that others had difficulties with this book too. You may be right about her style being left-brained.

      Well, anyhow. Back to magic.

  3. Ellen says:

    I had a nice weekend, went to an area called El Tigre, but it was too crowded and decided to come back home and enjoy the swimming pool that is nearby.
    Beautiful pictures as usual !!
    I haven´t read that book but I can say that I´ve read many others and I just took some ideas from them, I never followed what it was said in a religious manner, if you know what I mean.
    Have a great week!!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Ellen.

      It’s great that you don’t follow what is said or written in a religious manner. I don’t follow anything in a religious manner, either. I think we’re better off that way. 🙂

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed hiking through the woods. So glad you made the decision to put that book behind you and get it out of the house – it would only be a nuisance and nag if you kept it and stumbled over it periodically. Everyone finds their own path. To continue with something that isn’t working is detrimental and produces bad energy. It’s best to take what you can and move on – sending that source on to another. Hurray for you. Nice post

  5. I can really empathize with you when it comes to the Artist’s Way. I tried, as well. I think Cameron’s ideas are great. I could just never get into it. I bet you have your own book in you about the creative process, Robin. I’d love to know more of your thoughts–how creativity words for you. I know you write some about that, but I’d love to know more about your process.

    • Robin says:

      I’ve been thinking about your comment all day, Kathy M. I’m not sure I can explain my process. I have tried a few times. The problem seems to be that I’m not sure I have a process. I’ll give it another go when I finish this river of stones project. I imagine I’ll be a little better with words by that time. I hope. I might even get a decent blog post out of it. 🙂

  6. Chloe says:

    loving that warm hint of sunshine in your photographs
    we’re in summer here in Australia.. but the last few days have been very un-australian-summer .. it’s been low 20’s and very overcast 😦
    i miss the heat

    • Robin says:

      Would you believe I miss the cold, Chloe? I’m used to winters with lots of snow, plenty of ice, and really cold temperatures. This winter has been quite mild. But that has its delights, too. 🙂

  7. Dana says:

    Interesting comments about The Artist’s Way. I picked up the book from a used book store but still haven’t cracked the cover. I think I tend to be wary and suspicious of things that make big promises… if only you do x, y, and z (in that order)! Maybe that’s why I don’t like diet books or eating plans, either. I prefer finding my own path and (I’ll admit it) sometimes strike out simply for the sake of “doing it MY way instead”. Such a maverick. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      lol, Dana! I think the word “maverick” suits you. 🙂

      I’m wary of those things too, yet I still allow myself to get sucked in at times. A friend recommends something and the next thing you know, I’ve tried and failed at it several times over the space of ten or more years (<– The Artist's Way). Now that I'm finished with that, I'm going back to my 50 page rule. If I'm not into it within the first 50 pages, I'm finished with it. Well, mostly. Sometimes a book needs more than 50 pages. I can usually tell.

  8. ladyfi says:

    I don’t know the book but I do love the golden light in these shots!

  9. Hallysann says:

    I loved walking with you, especially through the magical woods and the woodland swamp.
    Thanks. 🙂

  10. Kel says:

    how courageous to acknowledge the resistance, work with it, then acknowledge what worked and what didn’t work for you

    happy to read that the process has encouraged you to get back to writing
    sometimes its fun to paint pictures with words instead of light 😉

  11. ceceliafutch says:

    I’m another one who started The Artist’s Way but was never able to plow through to the end. Some of her ideas are fantastic, but her approach was/is too rigid, “do it this way, or . . . ”

    BTW, your photos are wonderful. AND, I look forward to reading more of your writing. 🙂

  12. Gracie says:

    Lovely photos, Robin. I love that golden glow, it is a very warm welcome on a winter day.

  13. Karma says:

    Well, you are still enjoying photography and posting, so I am happy for that. Even on the days when I don’t have time to get out for a walk myself, I can come over here and pretend I did! 🙂

  14. carlaat says:

    Your photos as always, provide a peaceful place to rest the eyes for a moment. Thank you!

    I never quite made it through the Artist’s Way, and I agree with many of these sentiments, including that morning pages and artist dates are worth the price of admission. As well as the realization that I do read in place of nurturing my own creativity. Abandoning reading for a week (or more) is always a good lesson. I think this is why I didn’t take reading with me on the AT – so if I was inclined to do something, it would be to write, which I did, and now, two years out, I’m so grateful that I did and have so many memories written.

    I still have the book, but haven’t cracked it in a long time. I like Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd. It’s nuts and bolts but I got a lot of value out of it as well.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Carla. That’s a lovely thing to say/write. 🙂

      I take breaks from reading occasionally, but not for more than a day or two. I should try taking a week or two off. I suspect it would do me good. I’ll check into the book you mentioned. Thanks!

  15. Gerry says:

    I just wandered in today . . . I love the photos. They’re evidence of what we gain when November just won’t go away and hangs around until January. It looks like January may be waking up out there. I sure hope it doesn’t hang around until May.

    I have seen so many Artist’s Way references lately that I’ve decided it’s either A Sign or–and this is more likely–Cameron has released a new edition. I’m ambivalent about AW – and about life, I think I should mark “Other” and fill in the blank “Ambivalent” when surveyed about spiritual beliefs – anyway, ambivalent, as I say. When I started it, some dozen or so years ago, I was in a very difficult place and anything seemed like a life raft. And perhaps it was. The morning pages really do work. You eventually either get down to brass tacks–or demonstrate to yourself that you just don’t care to get into that just now thank you very much. Interesting.

    But like everyone else (have you ever met anyone who actually finished the whole thing?) I eventually laid AW aside and went on with the rest of my life. I’m thinking Julia Cameron would be happy for me. She knew from the start that not everything she put in there was going to help everyone get unstuck, but she also knew that there would be something in there that would help anyone get a purchase on the difficult climb out of the Pit of Despond. Good for her. I’m grateful. Never finished the book, never will – but I still have it. And every now and then I do some Morning Pages just for old times sake.

    • Robin says:

      Welcome, Gerry. Thanks for wandering in. 🙂

      January is looking much more like January here in the Bogs today. We had the initial Snow Event (which was a dusting with blustery winds and frigid temps). The lake-effect snow started last night and will continue for a day or two. We’ll be able to cross-country ski or snowshoe soon.

      I’m not sure if Cameron has released a new edition or not. Last year I decided to start going through the books that I had put aside for one reason or another, and either read them or donate them. My bookshelves runneth over and something had to be done to avoid having to create pathways just to walk through the room.

      My spiritual beliefs are somewhat similar. The spiritual aspects of TAW were somewhat off-putting for me, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons I struggled with the book (too much work to ignore that part of the book). When I first picked up the book (ten years or so ago), it seemed to drive me farther down the abyss I had fallen into and putting it aside was a good thing. I did get much more out of it this time around (the abyss is behind me). I’m grateful too. I learned a lot, and feel happy that I can move on from it now.

      Thanks for your input on TAW. I appreciate it.

  16. Marianne says:

    I too, attempted The Artist’s Way program over ten years ago and couldn’t get into it.

    Thanks for the walk in the woods, Robin. It was lovely! 🙂

  17. Robin, I’ve been thinking about your post for several days now. I started to reply a few times but had too much to say for a comment box. I think I will have to make my own post about The Artist’s Way. It will be a few weeks, but if you don’t mind, I’ll point back to your post. For me, it has been a very positive experience but the first time someone gave me the book, I gave it right back. Then I found it on my own a few years later and it clicked . . .

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