It’s Summer and you may be taking it easy. But if you’re looking for inspiration, consider the Workbook for Julia Cameron’s classic book, The Artist’s Way.
The workbook is organized into 12 chapters full of wonderful ideas and exercises designed to help you recover the basic building blocks of a creative life. Cameron assumes that creativity is our birthright, whether or not we define ourselves as artists. Her workbook shows you how to bring your creative self back to life.
Here are three of my favorite exercises:
1. “Describe five traits you liked in yourself as a child. Next, write a little bit about why each one appeals to you.”
2. “List five childhood accomplishments (got straight A’s in seventh grade, trained the dog, punched out the class bully, short-sheeted the priest’s bed). Reflect below on your memories of those experiences of success. And a treat: List five favorite childhood foods. Buy yourself one of them this week. Yes, Jell-O with bananas is okay.”
3. “Make a list of friends who nurture you—that’s nurture (give you a sense of your own competency and possibility), not enable (give you the message that you will never get it straight without their help). There is a big difference between being helped and being treated as though we are helpless. Describe which of these friends’ traits particularly serve you well.”
(From “Week Three: Recovering a Sense of Power” The Artist’s Way Workbook, by Julia Cameron)
I recommend these exercises because many artists are hard on themselves when they are not making progress. You tend to judge yourself harshly, when what you need is loving care. The first two exercises help you go back to your childhood in a positive frame of mind. You identify some of your core strengths, qualities in yourself that you can recover if you remember them.
In the third exercise you think about the people in your life. When you identify the friends who nurture you, you will gradually make more space for them. And then you’ll have less tolerance (and time) for people who do not support your growth.
Enjoy your Summer!
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists