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How Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is Quickly Changing My Life

I ordered a book almost a year ago that my sister-in-law recommended to me called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Until very recently, it sat on a shelf with the rest of the, “I’ll get to this eventually” self-help reading material.

After what has felt like a whirlwind the past 6 months of becoming a spouse, a first-time homeowner, successfully graduating from the puppy stage in rearing little Pudge, and Dan heading back to his full-time school and rehearsal schedule, I reached the point where I finally felt we were settled into our new lives enough for me to focus on some things I have been needing personally, but have been neglecting.

As they say with anything self-help related: others can tell you what they think you need, and you can be open to listening, but you’re not going to commit to bettering yourself until something inside of you says, “It’s time to do this.” Last year over Labor Day weekend, my self-help project was launching Sequins & Suspenders, and I was also in the process of changing my lifestyle to eat clean and be more active. This year my Labor Day self-help projects have been changing up the blog to make it more my own with a completely new look and feel, launching a new lifestyle video project called ‘Society Diaries TV’ with The Society Diaries magazine, and loving myself enough to commit to working through the 12 week-long self-guided course of The Artist’s Way.

I have almost completed the first two weeks of the workbook and its activities. I have ten more weeks to go. So far, the way I approach my days has completely changed, and the way I pay attention to the little things is even more pronounced. I am learning to break down my own walls that I have built up around my inner creative gifts for almost a decade. I am waking up early every day to write what Julia Cameron calls “morning pages,” and they are changing my life.

The premise behind the book is that everyone is an artist in one way or another. However, our modern-day Western society blocks creativity, and we are often coaxed into choosing alternative paths that cause us to be what she calls, “shadow artists.” Julia Cameron describes shadow artists as creatives that choose a profession that is close to the life they would like to have themselves, but are afraid to actually pursue because of societal pressures to put food on the table and pay the bills.

If you can relate to this description, or if you are already on your true creative path but you feel blocked for some reason, you should definitely read this book. Just in the first two weeks I have written poems, prose, the outline for a longer story that I hope to one day develop into a novel or a screenplay, and I’ve even started sketching little vignettes to musical lyrics that inspire me. In addition to all of this, I was motivated like never before to rework the entire blog and give it pages that reflect my real artistic side, sharing creative writing and a photo gallery of film and stage work. I’ve been hiding this until now because of my own silly insecurities, and guess what? It’s who I am, so it’s going on the site.

In regards to the blog and adding more personal information to it…I have officially committed to stop comparing my creativity to others, and it starts here. It’s a new year, and a new look. Sequins & Suspenders, year two: you’ll be seeing much more sharing of my raw creative voice, as opposed to only lifestyle and fashion focused. If I become less popular on Google because of it, so be it…my soul just needs a place to dump its creativity out. What better place to do it than on my little already-existing corner of the internet? *Don’t worry, Dan will still drop in from time to time, when he feels inspired to contribute.

After the first day of my morning pages, instead of closing my notebook and moving on with my day, there was something inside that urged me to turn over a new leaf of paper. When I did, a poem literally just came out of me. I haven’t ever written a poem, at least one I can remember. After sharing it with Dan, he highly encouraged me to post it on the blog, because he reminded me that finding one’s purpose in life is something most everyone can relate to. Hesitant of what readers’ responses would be, I waited several days and have since reflected on it. I think this poem is a birds eye viewpoint commentary on what happens when you are young, bright-eyed and full of dreams, and then you make your transition into the real world…faced with frustration at first, then acceptance and reflection, then self-motivation.

While at first it may seem that your bubble of optimism and desire to make profound art, achieve transcendence, and live freely is punctured by the ‘real world,’ exploding into 1,000 tiny pieces of doubt and despair…you may find that if you persevere and remain true to yourself, and practice gratitude for the people and circumstances that molded you, you can run toward the adversity head-on. Fearlessly and openly surrender to the Universe and allow it to lead you on the path you were meant for. The path that is pure and unique to you.

You can waste a lot of unproductive time and negativity blaming others, making up excuses as to why you weren’t perfectly set up in your imaginary catapult that was supposed to launch you to ‘stardom,’ like your other artistic idols. The truth is, when you get serious enough about your own dreams and creative freedoms to actually express yourself to the world, no one should be able to stop you. Find passion in your day job, and make time for your artistic space when you’re not there.

I am eager to continue sharing the art that emerges during the remainder of The Artist’s Way. In the meantime…here is, “She, Too, Is An Artist.”



View Comments (5)
  • First wow two years!? OMG that is fast! Congrats to the blog! I ve been your reader for both years and I like it a lot,
    Second, I also think everyone has talent , either hidden or very well displayed, very glad you are taking that pad, because I feel like, when you create something, you are putting yourself out there, and becoming vulnerable, hence the walls , but Ellie, being able to overcome that vulnerability will make you even stronger and happier.
    Definitely I will read this book later…
    As always thanks for sharing.

  • Really loved this post as I’m currently reading a self-help book also which is helping me figure out why I’m subconsciously sabotaging myself. Loved the poem as well 🙂

  • This is such a timely post for me, Ellie-challenging and empowering insight! Thank you for sharing this aspect of yourself, and your renewed willingness to be both courageous and vulnerable in your creative passions and pursuits. I think I, too, would greatly benefit from reading and digesting Ms. Cameron’s book. I’ve had incredible creative energy and enthusiasm since childhood, but have continually struggled with focusing and directing it decisively and purposefully. During childhood I received very little encouragement, investment, or knowledgeable support from my parents for my artistic abilities, even though my mother comes from an artistically diverse family. Such lack of thoughtful parental involvement is crushing to the vitality of our early dreams and passions, and to our confidence in ever realizing the innate abilities we possess. Much has happened in my life to create obstacles toward reaching my artistic goals, but I also believe quite a bit of it has been providential and instructive for preparing me in ways that formal training could not have achieved on it’s own. I have written poetry and have journaled over the years, but five years ago I began experiencing an artistic reawakening within myself. A forever hailed superstar on the dance floor, I finally began the formal dance lessons I’d always yearned for. I recently completed Master’s level training through a local (and rigorous) professional actor’s studio and this summer made my stage debut in an outdoor production (the company’s first of this kind), in which I was offered two contrasting supporting roles-TWO! I just completed writing the first chapter of what I hope becomes a short story or novel. All of this is happening to me now, and I’m in my forties! Just proves true passions and abilities never die. They may be reduced to dormancy or even atrophy, but they can be revived and brought to vibrant life if/when we nurture and hone them in ways that are meaningful and unique to us. So fulfilling!! Thank you again, Ellie, for imbibing us with your positive and constructive redirecting and renewed personal commitments!!

      • Thank you, and you’re welcome!Just ordered The Artist’s Way and cannot wait to read it and incorporate Ms Cameron’s teachings! I look forward to reading more from you as well!

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