I first heard of The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron several years ago. A creative friend of mine was reaching a point of burnout and needed some techniques to get herself centered again. She wrote a public journal of her experiences with using the program, and though I was intrigued, I never got around to purchasing the book to give it a try myself.
Recently, I heard that Julia has launched an interactive online service as a companion to her popular program. At http://www.myartistwaytoolkit.com, you can take advantage of some tools to help you pull yourself out of a creative black hole, or simply nurture your current creativity to avoid a future burnout.
As an artistic person who works in a creative industry, I can tell you that burnout is no joke. It hits you hard and without warning. Something that you once found enjoyable and can one day seem like a huge drag. The passion that was burning fiery hot one day can fizzle out into a pile of ashes the next, and let me tell you, it does a number on your confidence as an artist. I know. I've been there.
(.. I'm still there..)
When the opportunity came along to give this program a try, I was pretty excited. Remembering my friend, the writer, who worked the program so many years ago, I figured that there's no time like the present to finally give it a go on my own and see what it can do for me.
When you log in, this is what you'll see. On the right, you have a tabbed notebook that will allow you to access several bits of the program.
On the left side you'll see two pockets. One of them will give you a card with a positive affirmation to repeat to yourself as you go about the day. I particularly liked this one.
Or if you are a more auditory person, you can click on the Creative Soundbites pocket and receive an audio clip with some empowering phrases.
Now let's click on the first tab of the notebook on the right side of the screen. This is your contract.. your promise to yourself to work the program honestly and completely. You'll enter your name and the date in the blank spaces.
The second tab will bring up a suggestion for an "Artist's Date". The dates are giving you permission to have a little fun.. to go out into the world and receive whatever it throws back at you. By engaging in these activities regularly, you're opening your mind to new perspectives and new ideas. There's blank space beneath each date suggestion that allows you to record your experiences.. you can even upload photos!
The third tab is Artist's Way Exercises. These weekly tasks are meant to help you move beyond past hurts and embrace a more positive future, personally and creatively. Again, users are encouraged to use the blank space to fill in their own experiences.
Creativity Pages is, quite simply, a blank space to record your daily thoughts, ideas, problems.. whatever comes to mind. I was already familiar with the idea of "Morning Pages" as part of The Artist's Way program, and this is similar. Cameron recommends that each morning, you wake up and, longhand, compose 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing. The Creative Pages tab of the online toolkit is an additional space to record thoughts during other times of the day.
The last tab, Creativity Notes, is basically your electronic Post-It Pad. This section is searchable by keyword, and gives you a place to jot down fleeting ideas or inspiration that you might want to save and reference later on.
All in all, I think this toolkit is an interesting companion to the popular program that Julia Cameron devised so many years ago. As an artist, you really can't have too many tricks up your sleeve for staying inspired. If you're suffering from burnout or just need a place to organize your thoughts, head on over to www.myartistswaytoolkit.com and see what it can do for you!
I was given the opportunity to try this program from BlogHer.com. All opinions expressed are my own.