Friday, February 8, 2008

Creativity & The Artists Way

10 Books Every Writer Must Read: The first book in this series of 10 must-read books for every writer is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Don’t let the word Artist in the title fool you.

Writers are artists.

We sculpt in words. We paint pictures in phrases. Our lyrics make music come to life. I recommend that you read this book with a few friends.The book is like a 12-step program. It came about from Julia’s experience in helping other writers fight writer’s block. But it is more than that. It creates in you an artist’s mindset. And it’s message is best put into practice by meeting with a group of people over a 6 to 12 week time frame and studying this book chapter by chapter.

Now some would say such as book is a bunch of hooey. Some woud say is a kind of voodoo book that's supposed to turn a frog writer into a prince (or princess). Believe me, there is a lot of hooey out there having to do with writing and getting published. I think this book is not one of those. Yes, it is touchy-feely. It deals with your spiritual nature -- your creativity. But after all, if you can't be a little touchy-ffely and creative as a writer, what are you doing in this line of work anyway?

Let me tell you what I got out of going through the book in a group setting (twice.) One of the crucial exercises in the book that can change your life forever is the morning pages. This is an exercise where you handwrite three pages of anything every day. You let your mind wander as you write and see where it leads. Sometimes it leads to silliness, sometimes to revelation, sometimes to confession and forgiveness, expressions of hatred or love, ideas for writing or a reminder to call the plumber to fix a leaking faucet.

The morning pages are cathartic. They allow you to spew your thoughts in privacy, to discover what is important to you, to have revelations and eurekas about writing, art, life and plumbing. I don’t want to make this book sound to pie-in-the-sky, but let’s face it. Writing is not calculus. It is art.

As art, it must be fed with creativity. Without creativity there is poor communication. With creativity even an article on atomic physics can be made understandable and interesting. And if you can get your writing to the level where you can make any topic interesting and readable, then you will stand out from the crowd. Most people I meet who want to get published are not willing to jump into the fray and immerse themselves in the writing process.

The Artist’s Way encourages you to get into deep water – to discover what it is about yourself that holds you back. It makes you ask yourself, what would I write if I knew I would be successful? Or what would I write if I didn’t have to worry about what Aunt Mabel would think? What would I write if I knew my writing would change the world for the better? Or what would I write if I knew God was on my side?

The Artist’s Way is a spiritual journey. No matter your spiritual beliefs, creativity is spiritual. God is a creator. We are made in His image. As little gods we naturally emulate our parents – we want to create just as God created. I think, in fact, that this would be a much darker, sinister, murderous world if it were not for the writer’s (and artist’s) creation of beautiful, inspirational, thought-provoking, comedic, real-life, revealing, and society-challenging works.The Artist’s Way is a beginning for every writer.

Don’t be like most wanna-be writers and think that you can write the great American whatever without paying your dues. Like any athlete, concert musician, college professor, or electrician, you have to learn your craft thoroughly and be connected to it spiritually before you will experience what it really means to be a significant and successful writer.

This book is your nursery school. It is your graduate course. It can help you make the most of your God-given talent for creativity so that you will begin thinking like and acting like a noteworthy writer.

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