Jul 22, 2013

5 Top Reasons to Live THE ARTIST'S WAY

Have you joined the
Progressive Book Club yet?
The more books on the craft of writing I read, the harder I am to please.

All I want from a how-to manual is just one good, useful, life-changing tip - is that so much to ask? Just one. But it has to be a doozy. 

Many writing manuals are packed chock-full of tips and advice, in fact too many. At the most, my scattered little brain can only remember up to three good points, otherwise I get sparks and steam coming out my ears as the cogs grind. Most are good tips, but really, once you've read half a dozen writing guides, you've probably heard them before.

No, it must be an earth-shattering, mind-blowing piece of advice. And this book has it.

The Artist's Way Handbook was already listed on my Ten Best Writing Workbooks post, but it warranted a revisit. Why did I like it? I got my one good tip. 

Morning Pages - this is the term Julia Cameron uses to describe a daily task. First thing you do when you get up in the morning is to write three pages in longhand. It doesn't matter what you write, as long as you fill three pages. This was amazing for me. Here's my top reasons you should try writing morning pages:

  1. Focus. This small act lets me know my day is set for writing. When I don't complete my morning pages, I find I have a disorganised day.
  2. Capture dreams. If I get started quickly enough I can hold onto that vanishing story from my dream time. Last night I dreamt of a flat cat, that once I administered first aid, it inflated back up again. I can't make that stuff up.
  3. Inspiration. By delving into my aspirations, I can clarify my career desires.
  4. Stories. Sometimes my writing pages are blessed with stories, I don't even understand where they all come from. One of my favourite sassy characters, big Rosie, manifested on these pages.
  5. Info dump. Sometimes my head becomes overloaded with clutter. I get so frazzled with the hundred different aspects of my life that I can't sit still and work on my WIP. On those days, my morning pages dump all the garbage out of my head and leave a nice clear space for the creative.
  6. To-do list. I'll often finish up my three pages with a quick to-do list for the day. Once I get the kids up and off to school, I feel like I have a guide in place so I know exactly where to start when I get back.
This time I got further with the book. Some tips I enjoyed, such as listing things I love to do, other lives I could have lived, but then there were other activities I couldn't get into, such as remembering someone who wronged you from the past and pondering what blocks your creativity. I found the later too negative for me, I'm all about bouncy happy bunnies, no time for doom and gloom.

Coming up with your own writing affirmations is also a big winner for me. They serve as a reminder that my writing and teaching writing is a professional career and deserves respect.

In summary? Get yourself this workbook. There are several editions, but I recommend the workbook. Do the activities that speak to you, and miss the once that don't appeal to you (like the downers). Go for it. The Artist's Way is a fantastic workbook. 5/5 for me!


  1. I've definitely had people recommend this to me before. Also, I'm trying to follow your blog but I keep getting an error message. Will try again tomorrow!

  2. Earlier in the summer I started reading the 90-day novel by Alan Watts. A little later in the summer I tipped it in the trash bin. I hate guided practices. I've tried to give them my very best shots and they just get on my nerves in a big way. It's a little like, gee, I could be writing instead of reading this.

    Still, it is very, very cool when something like this is actually helpful to someone 'cause this here's a strange, wild path (the writer's life.)

    Great post, Char.

  3. I really enjoyed working through this book and found it was so helpful to really dig down into why I want to write and to see myself as a writer. I still keep the morning pages, but am not as good about sticking with the artist's dates. Those just always seem to take the back seat in life.

  4. I studied to be an artist, so perhaps I write that way. I plan my books like I plan my art, when I'm not writing. I understand what you mean about 'One good tip'. I look for that too.

    I like Don Maass' books, and Joseph Bell's. I use some of their suggestions. Nice to know about new ones like this.

  5. I've thought about buying that book, especially because I read and enjoyed one of Julia Cameron's other books, which was a memoir of her life as a writer (and as the former wife of Martin Scorsese). I like that part about the three pages too, especially because it gives me an excuse not to sleep in.

  6. I've read a lot of how-to books for both writing and drawing that have been hit-or-miss for me. Glad to hear this workbook was a winner for you!

  7. I did the morning hand-written pages thing all through college and loved it! That's still my preferred way to write if I have the time to pull it off.

  8. I'm not about the doom and gloom either - the rest sound like great exercises. thanks for the tip :)

  9. I've seen some good things in this book, but my all-time favourite is still Donald Maas, who has helped me more than any other how-to. I like your idea of just getting a few things to hang onto from a book. I have one book on crafting a novel that is so complicated it is unusable, for me, anyway. Keep it as simple as possible I say.

  10. Keep meaning to read that, although I think Dorothea Brand was the first to write this type of book way back in the 1930s - I still read that now and then.

  11. I have too many how to books on my shelves, but the exercise you gave here sounds great!


  12. I really have to try the morning pages activity. Sounds like it's a great kick starter.

  13. I have tried the morning pages idea but couldn't keep it up consistently. I seem to get lazier with every passing year (and they keep passing).