by Julia Cameron. Great book whose principles can be applied to any art - if you're a painter, poet, sculptor, she's talking to you. Large focus on "morning pages" - Cameron encourages writers of all sorts to not start their day until they have created three pages of words. Nonsense, rabling, the word "chickadee" repeated over and over - doesn't matter. Sooner or later your brain will have to start tapping into itself, and then try and stop it, you're raging with ideas.

The Artist's Way : A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
copyright 1992 Julia Cameron. J.P. Tarcher. 222 pgs. self-help / instructional how-to-get-off-your-potentially-creative-ass manual.

Cameron is a bit of a stereotypical self-help goon. She encourages making a list of affirmations about one's art - "I am a brilliant and prolific writer!" and so forth. Most people balk at such garbage, including me, makes me feel silly. But Cameron's point is only partly to boost your ego - she's also making you look at your perceptions of yourself and your art. Her point is that if it's so easy to make fun of self-affirming statements, why do we take our negative self-perceptions so seriously? "I'm a shitty writer who'll never amount to much." Easy enough to swallow that one - why not invert it, and make "I don't suck after all" your default setting?

The book includes various other techniques for how to get your mind to a more honest and productive spot. Some are goofy, some are practical, such as making an "artist date" with yourself once a week. Makes sense that if you take time for beauty - a museum visit, a walk in the park, a trip to an antique store - your brain will have more to work with.

The three-pages-a-day business is mostly helpful for writers, I imagine, but the more general exercises are applicable to any sort of artist, and of course learning to express yourself can only improve any art. All Cameron's techniques are sound, silly or not. She's got many years of practice on how to convince people to relax their conscious stupid uptight brains and let the butterflies out.

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