How To Heal Your Creative Soul (Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way Book Summary)

(Last Updated On: 25 April 2021)

A redditor recommended Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way to me. I’d never heard of the book before this guy told me about it. And so I went on and grabbed a copy. And while reading, I took some notes and here is my little summary, review, and criticism. ( Buy The Book. )
Note: Each chapter in the book is a week, that’s how the author chose to organize the book.

No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Spiritual Electricity/The Basic Principles

Julia believes we are creatives in one way or another. She really believes in that, and it shows (within the book). All we have to do, she points out, is “freeing people’s creativity”.

Her idea is to build some sort of “pathways” within our consciousness, and in turn, within these same “pathways” your creativity actually works.

The author refers to these basic principles as “Spiritual Electricity” through which the artist shall recover and discover his creativity.

Some of the principles mentioned:

  • Creativity is the natural order of life.
  • Open yourself to creativity and, you open yourself to the “creator’s creativity” within all of us.
  • You can refuse to be creative, but it is against “our true nature”.

The author introduces the concept of a “creative withdrawal”. And unlike Caffeine withdrawal, here she explains we are withdrawing “to” something instead of withdrawing “from” something like a substance. And the thing we are withdrawing to, in this case, is ourselves!

How do you know if you are creatively blocked? Jealousy is an excellent clue

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Well, I can relate to that somehow. And, if you find yourself when (when reading like a maniac like me) that most books in the market are like shit and that you probably could write a something better than 95% of published book out there, then that’s a sign!
And here, Julia Cameron offers us some tips, among them:

  • To stop telling ourselves that it is too late to pursue it
  • To stop using our financial situation as an excuse not to pursue it
  • To stop associating your creative side with your ego (even though it might be true in my opinion, George Orwell thought so in his essay WHY I WRITE)
  • To stop undervaluing dreams and to really believe that they matter
  • To not give a sh*t if you family and friends will think you are crazy (they probably will, in my estimation, but they don’t and will never matter)
  • Creativity is not a luxury (I agree that sometimes, it is an urge and a necessity)
Not a luxury!

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The Basic Tools

Julia Cameron presents two tools here: what she calls “the morning pages” and “the artist date”.

The morning pages:

You need to find your creativity. But, how? Cameron here suggests “the morning pages” method.

Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness:“Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah …”

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

The artist date:

This is when you set aside few hours each week to nurture and “date” your inner creative self, “your inner artist”.

The idea here, is that your inner creative needs to be taken care of, and taken out on a regular basis. And for that, the author is seriously telling us to set aside a block of time each week just to do that.

Recovering a Sense of Safety

  • All young artist yearn for acknowledgement, and they often don’t get it neither from family nor from friends, thus they are “shadow artists” (this kinds of reminds me of Saul Bellow when he once said “yes, I didn’t want to be ignored”)
  • Very often in our society, the artistic urge within a child is suppressed
  • Families usually discourage their children to pursue a career in Arts.
  • Usually, the child that has a creative energy within him and surrender to the environment pressure to go for a “real job, ” often later in life, when in his forties or fifties, go back and try to pursue that dream again
  • To make the jump, from obscurity to pursuing their artistic dreams, shadow artists must start taking themselves seriously
  • Your Artist is like a kid: nurture it
  • Take yourself seriously, but don’t take your early work very seriously or compare it unfavorably to the masters’
  • To recover go “gently and slowly”
  • Creative healing is like a “marathon”
  • To be a good artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist at first (and maybe even be bad a log period of time at first)
  • Your core negative beliefs are your worst enemies
  • Your affirmations are like your army,use them often
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Recovering a Sense of Identity

  • Self-definition is quite important in creative healing
  • Go sane! Unstuck yourself!
  • Believing your inner self-attacks will make you remain “victimized”
  • Self-doubt often leads us, blindly, into self-sabotage
  • Creativity thrives when accept ourselves and when we associate positively with our self-definition
  • Toxic company can block our artist growth
  • We are our inner artist’s own parent
  • Your “blocked” friends won’t support your healing/recovery
  • Avoid “Crazymakers” at all costs
  • Our inner skepticism is our worst enemy
  • A creative life involves a great deal of “Attention”

Recovering a Sense of Power

  • Take you anger, use it as fuel, do something with it
  • Don’t ignore the powerful signal of synchronicity
  • Learn to separate the useful criticism from the trash criticism
  • Shadow creative, ignored by their inner circle feel shameful about their own talent, usually doubt it, and run away from it for years
  • Growth happens to you in chunks, take it easy on down/low days, they happen to everyone

Recovering a Sense of Identity

The process of identifying a self inevitably involves loss as well as gain.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way
  • Face the mess as it shows up in your “morning pages” exercise
  • Clarity is the stage you arrive at when you know your boundaries
  • Just like in twelve steps programs, you need to “let go”
  • Creativity has its base/roots in reality
  • The best judge that you are recovering is you often feel like you are navigating uncharted territories
  • often, you are not conscious of your own growth speed
  • To become permanent and transcend time, a work of art must run away from all known boundaries oh what is possible or acceptable
  • Expect sudden shifts in mood, tastes and attitude
  • Evaluate your past carefully
  • All artists consume a huge amount of content—usually unconsciously
  • Keeping distractions to a minimum and consuming content in a ‘monitored’ way can nurture our own creative well
  • Try to imagine in detail your ideal setup & environment (Geographical, Mood, Schedule, Company, etc..)
  • Reflect back in time (back when you were five years younger for instance)
  • Have a ‘dream area’ (your secret creative space, could be a room, but shouldn’t be decorated as an office)
  • Plan for a sabbatical
  • Get rid of ‘one low-worth’ outfit
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Recovering a Sense of Possibility

  • Prepare your mind to erase any sense of limits on what you are able to achieve
  • Creativity is a ‘spiritual’ problem
  • Shift spiritually, but dot it gradually
  • Free yourself from all dependencies, but not from the dependence of ‘the creator within’
  • Listen to your Artist’s child within
  • ‘Withdrawal’ is a must for you as an artist, otherwise, anxiety and depression becomes inevitable
  • Do not ignore your internal warnings (about toxic marriage, stressful job, deteriorating health, etc..)
  • Often, as a creative, worrying about what will happen to your relationships as a result of doing what you really feel inside that you must do will keep you in the ‘non-action’ zone
  • Don’t be destructive of your true essence as an artist
  • We become really spiritual by getting in touch and accepting the creative within no matter how crazy he/she might seem

Recovering a Sense of Abundance

  • Self-limiting beliefs like ‘money is bad’ or ‘I shall pursue that creative path when I get enough money’ can indefinitely postpone that career/dream
  • Never act out of the belief that what nature or god wants for you is different from what you want for yourself
  • Write about the God/Power you believe in in your mornings journal
  • Stop blaming your misery as a creative on God
  • What we desire to pursue is what w really want to do
  • When we get stuck, we blame it on money (the lack of it)
  • Ask yourself what gives you true joy? everyone is different
  • The life of a creative necessitate a private space (even though it may seem like a luxury for some)
  • Creative recovery as a process may seem silly, but that’s really resistance from within

Recovering a Sense of Connection

  • Progressively hone your listening skill
  • Embrace your ability to create as natural
  • Accept that the universe wants to assist you with what you are doing
  • Perfectionism is simply your own refusal “to let yourself move ahead”
  • Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of perfectionism, because if you do, you’ll never be satisfied
  • Setting your limits too low, perhaps in a sweet spot that your mind perceives as achievable, is a trick and a mistake; it is selling yourself short unconsciously
  • It is easy and natural to get jealous of others when you are outside their ‘camaraderie, ‘ but once you join their club, your jealousy will vanish instantly

We’ve all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living, but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Recovering a Sense of Strength

  • How your perceive Time is affecting the way you take creative risks
  • Acknowledge your creative losses (rejection, humiliation, failures, bad reviews from critics, etc..) in order for you to heal them
  • ‘True criticism’ won’t destroy you, it will liberate you
  • Academia can poison, and eventually kill, the creative spirit
  • get a circle of people around you who value, respect you and offer constructive, instead of destructive criticism
  • Artists and Intellectuals are the same
  • As an aspiring artist, without the right tools, you may delay your stay in terra incognita , buried there in obscurity
  • Artistic injuries and scars, like athletes, are inevitable
  • You need to focus on what lies ahead of you
  • Every end, is your new beginning
  • Creative endeavors ought not, in a way, and won’t be ‘finished’
  • drop the finished product thinking
  • Don’t join the great masses, the people that let a positive integer called Age stop them from doing, from going, from seeing, from LIVING!
  • Stop daydreaming about how your creative life as an artist ought to be, and start living as an one instead
  • Never think about the odds. Ever!

“I’m too old to really be a writer” is another frequent complaint. This is more ego-saving nonsense. Raymond Chandler didn’t publish until the far side of forty.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Recovering a Sense of Compassion

  • Be prepared to face the emotional hurdle in your creative journey
  • Don’t confuse being Blocked as being Lazy, oftentimes, they are not the same thing
  • Fear is the ultimate block for an artist
  • Declaring yourself as an Artist may represent “an act of rebellion”
  • Being needy to make is as a creative makes it hard to do so
  • Art is a process, try to make it as fun as possible
  • Be free of anger and fear
  • Always remember that your artist is a creative child

Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection

  • Each one of us has several ways to block our own creativity
  • Abusing on the lower human needs (lower down Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, think food, and sex) can negatively impact our creativity
  • It is terrifying for an artist to see what is really possible for him/her to achieve
  • It is courageous to admit your own blocking tools
  • Your time is too valuable to waste it on thinking of the next artist who is getting past you and how he doesn’t even deserve it

Fame is a spiritual drug.

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Recovering a Sense of Autonomy

  • You must experiment, and see what works for you as an artist, everyone is different
  • Your credibility lies with you and your output
  • You cannot plan your creative career (even if you try)
  • Your self-respect arises from doing your work
  • You don’t need to be rich, but you need to support yourself (don’t be the starving artist)

Recovering a Sense of Faith

  • Meet the prerequisites of creativity: receptivity, faith, and trust
  • Have the courage to admit your inner dream, you are intended to create
  • There is a path for you
  • Creativity begins in darkness; we need to trust it, as ideas start and grow there
  • Mystery is at the heart of creativity

Julia Cameron’s Online Course

If you like the book so much that you want to seriously invest in your creative journey and awakening the giant within, then luckily for you, the author, Julia Cameron is offering a twelve weeks online course: The Artist’s Way Online Course that will perfectly complement your reading of the book.

Follow The Author: Julia Cameron’s Online Presence

Her Instagram, and her Twitter.

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