“If you want to work on your art, work on your life.”
– Anton Chekhov
As I write this, I am embarking on Week 6 of The Artist’s Way.
If you’re not familiar with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, it is 12 transformational weeks of reconnecting with your inner artist and learning to listen to the spiritual guidance that brings him or her to life.
It’s probably one of my favorite things on this planet, next to French fries and The Poseidon Adventure.
This is the third time I’m doing The Artist’s Way, but it feels very much like the first. And I think the biggest factor is my own awakening over the past year and a half. I am so much more sensitive and open to the spiritual elements of this process.
As a result, even six weeks in, I am experiencing a far more dramatic transformation than I have before.
Here are some highlights from what I’ve discovered so far:
My ego is one crafty asshole.
My ego and I have been having a tumultuous relationship since I did ayahuasca last year. I have been evicting it from so many areas of my life it never belonged in. But it has come back with A VENGEANCE during The Artist’s Way.
I take it as a good sign, though; as A Course in Miracles explains, your ego screams loudest just before a breakthrough. And lately, it has been pulling out all of the stops and wailing like a banshee to throw me off track.
I have to give it credit for all of these mental acrobatics it’s pulling off. My ego makes Cirque du Soleil look like chair aerobics.
Synchronicity can get annoying.
Synchronicity is one of the coolest elements of The Artist’s Way. I believe it’s being used in this process to connect me with “being seen”—which is a big fear for blocked artists.
So a perfect example: the moment I try to cross a quiet street, someone will come racing around the corner from one direction, and then from the other. One morning, I went to cross the street and first a car came from the right, stopped and tried to make a K-turn exactly where I was standing, while another car came from the other direction and a third pulled down the alleyway I was headed towards.
I felt like an American tourist in North Korea—it was like I was being monitored at every moment!
Another example: as soon as I step out my front door or come back to my building, which only has a handful of residents, it’s suddenly a high-traffic moment of other people coming and going at the same time.
At first, these little intersections drove me nuts, but I now try see it the same way as always seeing 11:11 on the clock—just a little nod from the Universe to remind me that we’re co-creating.
You’re supposed to fuck up.
The Artist’s Way is A LOT. And in the spirit of “doing it right,” it’s easy to forget that you’re expected to get off track. It’s apparently more common closer to Week 8 (can’t wait) where people start taking U-Turns and rebelling against the process.
You’re not expected to complete all the exercises in each week. No one is keeping score if you miss a day of Morning Pages. (Though, more on that in a bit.) You can even give up for a week and then come back.
The Artist’s Way is teaching you the habit of getting back on track, which is far more useful than trying to develop the (impossible) habit of doing things perfectly.
It helps make sense of the chaos we live in today.
One of the great synchronicities of The Artist’s Way is its timing in my life right now. (And consider this a winning endorsement for why it should be in your life right now too.)
As things have gotten pretty chaotic in the world right now, from a political, socioeconomic, energetic, astrological and spiritual POV (they all come to the same conclusion: shit’s crazy right now), The Artist’s Way has helped me find peace in this chaos.
It doesn’t dispel the chaos—it just accepts it as part of a process. Chaos precedes change, and in that necessary chaos, The Artist’s Way provides structure and support in order to work with it. I have felt less helpless in this world since starting this six weeks ago.
The Morning Pages are EVERYTHING AND YOU MUST DO THEM EVERY DAY.
I know I said before that you’re supposed to fuck up and no one’s looking if you miss a day of the Morning Pages, but the sooner you see these pages as being a vital part of your daily routine, the sooner you’re going to see real transformation in your art and your life.
There are plenty of reasons why the Morning Pages are magic, enough for a separate post. But trust me on this one for now—they make amazing things happen. It’s like some Harry Potter shit, they cast spells on your life.
None of your excuses for not doing the Morning Pages are as powerful as the pages themselves, so do your pages. They can’t work their magic without you.
As I embark on Week 6, I look forward to more magic, more chaos and more amazing transformations!