Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: Artists Way Toolkit

I was excited to find a trial membership of The Artist's Way offered for the BlogHer Book Club. If you spend any time reading on-line writing sites, you can't help but see mention of Julie Cameron and her book that helps writers release their creativity. I've been interested for awhile, but never wanted to spend the cash. Creativity is free, after all, or at least it should be.

I jumped in with gusto to do the exercises in The Artist's Way Toolkit, an on-line version of the book featuring daily and weekly exercises to help crank up the flow of creative juices. I have mixed feelings about the result.

Key components of the toolkit involve keeping a daily journal, called Morning Pages, writing weekly about thoughts that arise on the Artist's Date, and using the writing prompts on the Artist's Way Exercises page to delve into deeper personal issues that may affect creativity. There are also tabs called Creative Pages and Creative Notes.

Morning Pages

I wasn't sure how to approach the Morning Pages. At first, I used it as a way to explore creative alternatives for trite phrases that plague my writing. This was okay for the first few days, but then I found myself morphing into journal writing. That felt lazy, so I started to use it to brainstorm article and blog post ideas. Still, I like that it helped me cultivate a daily writing habit, which is important to me. Inside the pages and pages of drivel I wrote, there are a few gems I like.  

Artist's Dates

The Artist's Dates activities were clearly not written by anyone with small children. While I'd love to devote time to go to the beach by myself to quietly reflect on life, I just don't see it happening in my current life. Carving out alone time, especially when it involves an amount of travel, even if that travel is just to the next county to find a candy store, is next to impossible. Still, I get the feeling Ms. Cameron would say that's an indication I haven't made creativity a priority. While I love to write, my creativity needs to fill up the empty spaces in my life. I can't put it first and expect the children to fit in the leftover spaces. Parenthood just doesn't work that way.

The Artist's Way Exercises

The Artist's Way Exercises are writing prompts to help you delve into anything that's holding you back creatively. I've always struggled with writing prompts. They kind of make me feel like I'm in school again. My high school English teacher pretty much squashed my creativity like a bug under her thumb. Writing prompts bring back the feeling of having a disapproving vulture gleefully waiting to mark my paper with red pen. If there is anything that makes my creativity shrivel up and die, I'd have to say that writing prompts are it. I ended up writing lots of poor me journal entries here that I'd be ashamed if anyone read. 

Creative Pages

I probably got the most out of the Creative Pages tab on the toolkit. This was perfect free-form writing space. I used it to take the gems from my Morning Pages and expand on them or refine them. That might be the combo that works best for me. I could nix the writing prompts, keep the other stuff and be perfectly happy with The Artist's Way.

Creative Notes

This tab simply didn't work for me. I could open the tab, but couldn't get my cursor to appear at the top of the page. Thus, it remained blank throughout. 

Please check out The Artist's Way Toolkit pages on BlogHer for some interesting discussion topics.

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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