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Welcome back, Dear Readers.

If you believe that there are no coincidences, you’ll love the fact that in a low moment at work, when my computer was down, I stumbled across a book by Julie Cameron in the Museum’s Unintentional Book Club (I’ll explain this book club in another post).

A lot of you are probably familiar with Cameron, whose book The Artist’s Way was an international bestseller. Cameron is well-known for providing exercises that help artists tap into their creativity. (And by artist, she means anyone creative–painters, sculptors, writers, musicians, florists…anyone.) I remember going through some of the exercises in The Artist’s Way and being happy with the results, so I picked up this new book, Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity, and took it back to my desk.

Similar to The Artist’s Way, this sequel is designed as an at-home course, much like you’d take through distance learning, with homework assignments included. I thought it might be interesting to go through the process together on Fun Fridays, and see where it takes us.

If you agree to follow Cameron’s process, you are supposed to undertake three weekly exercises throughout the twelve weeks. (Don’t worry, none of them involve wind sprints or sit-ups.)

1) Daily pages: Wake up a half hour earlier each morning (groan!) and write three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. Do not read these pages or edit them, and don’t share them with others. This should take thirty minutes. Don’t worry about what to say–write whatever comes to mind, as fast as you can get it down. Ideally, this should be done by hand.

2) Take a twenty minute walk by yourself each week. Cameron believes walking is a great way to clear our minds, therefore allowing us to tackle roadblocks which may hinder our creativity.

3) Go on an Artist’s Date each week. Go to someplace new, interesting, or inspiring by yourself. These ‘dates’ needn’t be longer than an hour. Locations Cameron suggests include toy stores, fabric stores, etc. If you’re a writer, a bookstore, library, or a paper boutique may provide inspiration; artists may enjoy art supply stores or galleries, etc. Museums are always great (no bias here), and I personally love ethnic food stores.

Week 1, Discovering a Sense of Origin, has two additional exercises. For the first, list twenty small, creative actions you could take. (These include things I don’t normally think of as creative, such as painting a windowsill or making soup.)

For the second, use ten positive adjectives to describe yourself. The goal of this particular exercise, Cameron explains, is self-acceptance. So even if the word you use isn’t always meant in a positive way, think of it as positive when you write it down. For instance, I’ll be including the word “sensitive”. I’ve had this word thrown at me in a negative way by several people, as in “You’re so sensitive”,  or “You’re too sensitive”. But being sensitive has many benefits as well, and to my way of thinking, it’s much preferable to being insensitive. So I’m including it.

Feel free to undertake one, both, or none of these exercises, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this process. Have you read any of Cameron’s books or tried her exercises? How have they worked for you? What twenty creative things could you reasonably accomplish? What ten positive adjectives would you use to describe yourself?

If you try the morning pages, artist’s date, or weekly walk, please let me know how it went. My own answers will be posted in a comment.

Happy Friday!

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  1. Story Teller

    Task 1: What The Hell, You Might As Well

    1) Repaint that ugly peeling utility pole in my bathroom.
    2) Create a meal plan for the coming week.
    3) Make one of the items on the meal plan for Monday’s lunch.
    4) Organize my cluttered office.
    5) Decide what to give away to charity, and organize it.
    6) While at the grocery store, select a fruit, vegetable, or other item I’ve never tried.
    7) Send my newly scanned photos to my friend Jason.
    8) Blog more regularly.
    9) Write something just for fun.
    10) Organize the basement.
    11) Organize the hellhole under my stove.
    12) Organize the deep freezer.
    13) Make travel plans.
    14) Write something short just for fun.
    15)Patch and paint drywall cracks.
    16)Bake cookies.
    17)Write a friend I haven’t talked to for awhile.
    18)Throw a secret kitty dance party.
    20)Plan this year’s garden.

    Whew! That was pretty tough.

    Task 2: Express Yourself

    1) Loving
    2) Sensitive
    3) Creative
    4) Nurturing
    5) Empathetic
    6) Sarcastic
    7) Funny
    8) Passionate
    9) Goofy
    10) Enthusiastic

  2. Sherry

    You’ve got some great ideas, Holli! Thanks for sharing. I too have read Cameron’s book and followed it with good results. Her book, along with Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones helped me accept my own brand of creativity in whatever form it took. I’ve also used the ideas in these books to encourage the writers in my life writing group to trust in their own creative processes and to follow the flow of words rather than try to control them. Free writing is powerful and it always works.

  3. Michelle Davidson Argyle

    Huh, sounds like a great book! I used to do the morning pages thing, but fell out of practice once I graduated college. It was really helpful when I did it. And I used to walk everyday, but I have become seriously lazy. Or just too busy, hah.

  4. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comments, ladies. It’s nice to hear that other people have tried some of these exercises with success. The biggest challenge for me will be going to bed earlier, so I can wake up earlier. The ‘morning pages’ were a bust this morning.

    @ Sherry – How do you fit in time for your own creativity?

    @ Michelle – The great thing about her instructions is you only have to fit in ONE 20-minute walk per week. Just one! I think I’m going to walk in the museum until it warms up. Always something to see.


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