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The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron was on my bookshelf for years before I picked it up. Per the New York Times, over 4 million copies have been sold since its publication in 1992. Umm… that’s quite impressive, and I wanted to know why. Why is this book so good? At the time of this writing, I am in the middle of the Artist’s Way. So, this isn’t my full review but something I wanted to share while I was in it because it’s been eye-opening in how I am seeing and doing self-care.
What is The Artist’s Way?
The Artist’s Way is more than a book that you pick up and read- which I didn’t know until I got through the introduction. It’s a 12-week guided journey to “unblocking your creative self”. Personally, I feel like the book guides you through way more than just getting your “creativity” back. It helps you get you back. The Artist’s Way has challenged me to remember what I really enjoy doing… wait… I enjoy having fun? I haven’t had real fun in so long. I’ve been too busy doing all the things for everyone else.
There are daily and weekly tasks that are required (which I will discuss in the next paragraph). Yes, it’s a little woo-woo. Ok, it’s a lot woo-woo, but in a way that felt very welcoming to all. The author is clear that this journey isn’t about what she believes or feels. She doesn’t push any agenda or a way you “should feel” or what you “should do.” No, none of that, and I appreciated it very much. I feel anyone who could read this book despite their religion or beliefs could benefit from this book.
How does it work?
The introduction gives a very thorough explanation of the 2 main things you are required to do: morning pages and artist dates.
Every day you are required to write 3 pages longhand. I know. It sounds terrible, but it’s become one of my favorite tasks. Ironically, this task alone is the #1 reason why the book sat on my shelf so long. Carving out 20 minutes to write? I barely have 20 minutes to do anything for myself as a mom of 2 and a wife. “Should I use that time to workout or meal prep?” I often thought. Out of sheer curiosity of the popularity of this book, I am doing it anyway. It’s not supposed to be “correct” or “beautiful” writing. Just your thoughts without any judgment. There is no wrong way to do morning pages. I’ve literally written, “I have no idea how I am going to fill up 3 pages. I have nothing to say.” But I always do. The words come, because our minds are never short on thoughts.
The other large component is the weekly artist dates. These dates have 2 rules. 1) you have to do one each week, and 2) you have to do them alone. If you are thinking, “there’s nothing I want to do alone” I encourage you to keep thinking about that. They do not have to be big deal or cost any money.
For one of my artist dates, I carved out time to get myself a hot coffee and walk the aisles of Target alone. I didn’t have items to pick up. I just wanted to shop uninterrupted. To look for as long as I wanted. This is a luxury as a mom of two, and it really was glorious. I went a little grander for my first artist date, because it had been something I always wanted to do – take horseback riding lessons. I’ve never allowed myself the time or the money to do such a thing. I’ve been taking lessons for weeks now and thoroughly enjoy them. I have often written on my morning pages about why I never took the time or spent the money on myself for all the years. It brings me so, so much joy. I have also taken myself to a restaurant alone. I eat unrushed without the feeling I have to entertain someone. Truly, truly so needed and wonderful.
Have I seen results?
Like I’ve said, I am only a few weeks into the Artist’s Way at this point. However, I can already tell this journey I am on doesn’t end when the 12 weeks are over. It’s not about one “ah-ha I did it! Now let me move on to the next thing.” It’s more the small things that I’ve noticed. After an artist date, I feel recharged. It gives me more energy to spend with my family, and I don’t resent cooking dinner as much. The artist pages have really helped me to get all the thoughts out of my head. I can’t tell you why, but writing down my worries and fears makes them a little less scary. Writing down my goals and prayers makes them seem a little more obtainable.
Concluding my review, I think everyone should give The Artist’s Way a go. It is making me so much more self-aware. It’s bringing me closer to God and challenging me to do things I’ve always wanted to. Horseback riding lesson, a 40-day prayer challenge, and taking a walk in the middle of the day- just to name a few. Please give this book a try. There is even a handbook you can purchase here to make the journey even easier. If you do start, please take photos and tag @kaylabrint on Instagram. I’d love to cheer you on!