When lockdown first started, I lost my day job almost immediately. Anxiety about practical matters notwithstanding, my lack of job caused me to feel extremely confused about how to spend the seemingly interminable daylight hours. Previously, my days had been jam packed with 90-minute commutes, interpreting appointments for Mandarin-speaking patients, and review sessions of Chinese medical vocabulary. When everything came to a grinding halt, I was at a loss and having trouble moving forward. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron helped me get through this challenging time.
(Re)Enter: The Artist’s Way
At the time, my best friend and creative technologist Sydney Parcell was several months into a campaign to convince me to do The Artist’s Way, which I had been resisting. The Artist’s Way is a book by Julia Cameron, and a 12-week self-guided program to recover your creativity. That all sounded well and good, but I didn’t want to “indulge.”
You see, I have been familiar with The Artist’s Way for a long time. Published in 1991, it’s not a new book, and used copies can be easily found at any used bookstore (I got mine about ten years ago at the defunct Almost Perfect Bookstore in Roseville).
About once a year, I’d pick up my copy of the book and casually read some of the first chapters. I also practiced morning pages on a semi-regular basis, accumulating quite the stack of Morning Pages Notebooks (I’m currently on volume XIX!) in the process.
But after a while, I gave up the practice, claiming that Morning Pages weren’t good for anything except complaining. I told myself that I didn’t want to dwell on the bad things in life. I ran out of notebooks and let the practice fall by the wayside.
My Creative Recovery
Fast forward to March 2020, when the pandemic hit us all like a ton of bricks. Everything in my life was different: my job was gone, I moved out of my Bay Area apartment and back home, and I no longer had the energy to participate in my much-loved sport of cycling. I knew something wasn’t right. I needed a change.
It was then that I gave in to Sydney’s gentle prodding. I embarked on my 12-week journey to “creative recovery,” and it honestly changed my life. The Morning Pages, the Artist Dates, and the reflective reading assignments really gave me the opportunity to examine my life and make room for improvement. Sydney and I met each week to do our Artist Check-Ins. I allowed myself to enjoy the blessing of time off, play around with some art projects, and use my creativity. Check out some of my pieces in the slideshow below!
If you are someone who feels stuck in life, lacking in creativity, or just like you need a change, I highly recommend that you pick yourself up a copy. See if there are any local groups convening in your area, or do the process with a friend, like I did. I know you’ll be better off for having done so.
Have you done The Artist’s Way? Are you thinking about trying it out? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.