On one of my days off this week, I decided to visit a metaphysical store called Crazy Wisdom Bookstore in Ann Arbor. It is a wondrous place not only filled with books, but crystals, tarot decks, incense, journals, art, and gifts. I went there hoping to find books on art and spirituality, but I couldn’t find any. I decided to ask one of the lovely booksellers for assistance, and she looked up various keywords tied to art and spirituality and nothing was coming up. She was as surprised as I was they don’t have a section of the store devoted to this section. Then she said, “Wait, here’s one. “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.” I laughed and told her I already have that one. I thanked her and left the bookstore. As I was walking away, I started thinking, maybe that was a sign, a prompt, to return to the “The Artist’s Way.” The book is about creative recovery, and that is what I find myself in need of once again.
When I first delved into “The Artist’s Way” 13 years ago, I had no idea what I wanted or what to expect – all I knew was that I had this overwhelming urge to be creative. So, I dove into the book, reading sections and trying out exercises. I started keeping morning pages and going on scheduled artist’s dates as Julia advised more about morning pages and artist dates here. And eventually, I got back to my love of books and the stories they contain by virtue of participating in these activities. This then led to me:
- reading more
- learning to write
- starting a blog
- learning to draw
- learning to paint
- completing a 365 day art challenge
- setting up art studios in my homes
- starting an art business
All of these things came about because I embarked on this system of creative recovery, and stuck with it over the years. I realized that I have gotten away from it over the past year – I stopped writing daily morning pages, going on weekly artist’s dates, and creating on a regular basis.
I just read the first essay in “The Artist Way” where Julia Cameron talked about being a shadow artist, which is someone who admires the work of other artist without doing the work of being an artist themselves. This manifests as reading about others, going to museums and galleries, watching movies about artists, supporting the work of artists as agents or representatives, and so on; basically being in a field or pursuing hobbies closely related to the desired field. I’m sorry to admit that I’ve returned to being a shadow artist. I have been flipping through books and admiring the work of others, but I am no longer doing the work myself. There are reasons for this, of course (there always are); like I have a new job that is mentally exhausting and being totally overwhelmed by the scope of the creative project I am undertaking. I still dabble every now and then in my creative work – creating a piece of writing, creating a graphite sketch, working on a painting – but I miss the consistent routine of doing regular creative work. The work of being a true artist.
Now that I have returned to “The Artist’s Way”, I am getting back to basics – doing morning pages, scheduling weekly artist’s dates, and taking small steps on the mammoth story I want to tell (the story of two jazz age bibliophiles in France). I know that I am a Storyteller, but it is time to get back to the work of being a Storyteller. I plan to share my creative recovery, my journey as a Storyteller, on this blog going forward. I am hoping that the entries I share here will help someone else to recover their creativity as well; to stop being a shadow artist, and to start producing the art they long to make.