Authors & Thought Leaders

Why You Need to Learn Julia Cameron’s Life Lessons

Published on August 17, 2017

Article by Bodhi Tree

photo of Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron is the author of more than 40 books of fiction and nonfiction, as well a playwright, songwriter and poet. Well-known for her bestselling work The Artist’s Way, Cameron has helped people all over the world express themselves creatively. She also spoke at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in 1994 about The Artist’s Way and the subject of creativity.

Recently, we interviewed Cameron about her own creative process, her inspiration and her new release, Life Lessons: 125 Prayers and Meditations.

Bodhi Tree: What are some of the tools you suggest to help creative people create?

Julia Cameron: I believe there are three primary tools for increasing creativity. The first tool—the one that I’m known for—is something called Morning Pages. They are three pages of longhand morning writing, strictly stream of consciousness. Morning Pages prioritize your day and keep you from being swept up in other people’s agendas. They miniaturize your Censor and teach you to express freely.

The second tool, used in conjunction with Morning Pages, is what I call the Artist Date. It is a once-weekly, solo expedition to do something that enchants or interests you. The Artist Date gives the practitioner a strong sense of connection with the higher power. It promotes optimism and a feeling of wellbeing. It helps to “fill the well” by replenishing our store of ideas and images.

The third tool is a simple one: walk. I have found that walking helps to integrate the insights and intuitions that come as a result of the other two tools. Taken as a trio, these tools rapidly expand our sense of creative potential.

BT: When you wrote The Artist’s Way, did you think you would start such a movement to help so many people in their creative processes? What was your intention in writing that book?

JC: When I wrote The Artist’s Way, I aimed at unblocking a handful of friends. Of course, the book unblocked many more people, and it changed the map we use to talk about creativity. I was delighted by the book’s widespread reception. My intention was to be of service to both the few and the many.

BT: Do you ever get stuck in your own creative process? What are your daily habits for writing and creating?

JC: Like any other creative person, I experience droughts. I battle with drought by using the three primary tools, trusting that they are powerful enough to dissolve my resistance. For three decades now, I have had a daily practice of Morning Pages. In addition, I have an emergency tool from The Artist’s Way called Blasting through Blocks. It asks me to list on the page any angers, resentment and fears that I may feel about the project at hand. I then read my entries to a Believing Mirror—a friend who sees me as large and expansive. I find my blocks dissolved and I am made once again to work freely.

BT: What was it like to speak at Bodhi Tree in 1994? You discussed creatives sharing with other creative. Why is that so important?

JC: It was wonderful to speak at Bodhi Tree, drawing as it did an open and interested audience. I shared with them the importance of creative friendships, urging them to make clusters of Believing Mirrors. I believe that the support, which comes to us through consciously seeking out positive people, leads to creative success. I point to the movie business, where Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese formed a creative cluster, causing their mutual creativity to blossom.

BT: You also write about the connection between creativity and spirituality. How does that link show up in our creative process? How can we feel and recognize it?

JC: I believe that creativity and spirituality go hand in hand. My creativity tools inaugurate a spiritual awakening. Morning Pages are a potent form of prayer and meditation, as are Artist Dates. When we work on our creativity, we automatically increase our spirituality.

BT: Why do so many of us desire more spiritual connection, yet find it so difficult to achieve?

JC: The yearning for a spiritual connection is innate in all human beings. It is our mythology about God that makes it seem difficult. In reality, the higher power is easily reached. The simplest prayers are heard and answered. I wanted a book that reflected the gentleness and ease of spiritual connection. I would sit nightly in my writing room, looking out at the juniper and piñon, and I would ask, “What do I need to say? What do my readers need to hear?” To put it simply, I ask to be of service.

BT: How is being creatively blocked and spiritually blocked connected? Or are they the same thing?

JC: When we are creatively blocked, it is because we lack the faith to go forward. Faith is squarely a spiritual issue, and as we strengthen our faith, we strengthen our creativity.

BT: How is Life Lessons a continuation of the work you have already done?

JC: Many times, we believe that spirituality is difficult. I wrote Life Lessons to prove the opposite point: that spirituality is easy. I intended the book to be soothing. I wrote it to allay anxiety and inaugurate peace. When I teach I use the prayers from this slender book. I find that Artist’s Way practitioners are open to its healing message.

BT: What inspired you to write Life Lessons?

JC: Life Lessons was born out of my experience with living alone and seeking spiritual comfort. It could fairly be said that although I wrote the book for others, I also wrote it for myself. I live alone, up the mountains from central Santa Fe. The occasional bear, coyote or deer make up my visitors. Although I am frequently in touch by telephone with my friends from New York, it is still lonely. My Santa Fe friendships are blossoming, but “drop by” friendships are few and far between.

BT: What is your favorite Life Lesson of the 125 prayers and meditations in your book? Why?

JC: I think my favorite Life Lesson is number 109, which begins, “Lonely One, We are with you at all times although you seldom sense our presence.” I find this meditation soothing, and I often turn to it.

BT: What is the one thing you can tell your readers why they should never give up on themselves as creative beings?

JC: I would point my discouraged readers to Life Lesson number 110. It begins, “Little One, There is a divine plan of goodness for you.” I believe that higher forces are always at play in our lives, and that as we ask for guidance, we are guided. In Life Lesson 111, we are told, “Never doubt that it is God’s will for you for you to be creative. Creativity is God’s nature and your own.” I firmly believe that there is goodness afoot for all of us, and as a book I wrote recently states, it’s never too late to begin again.

Published on: August 17, 2017

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