Young man painting - The Artist's Way turns 25

The following article has been excerpted from The Artist’s Way: 25th Anniversary Edition, in which author Julia Cameron helps inspire people to put aside any excuses, connect with their inner selves and get their creative careers off the ground. 

The Artist’s Way questions and answers 

Although creative recovery is a highly individual process, there are certain recurrent themes and questions that I have encountered over and over in my teaching. In the hopes of answering at least some of your questions directly, I include the most commonly asked questions and answers here.

Is true creativity the possession of a relatively small percentage of the population?

No, absolutely not. We are all creative. Creativity is a natural life force that all can experience in one form or another. Just as blood is part of our physical body and is nothing we must invent, creativity is part of us and we each can tap into the greater creative energies of the universe and pull from that vast, powerful spiritual wellspring to amplify our own individual creativity.

As a culture, we tend to define creativity too narrowly and to think of it in elitist terms, as something belonging to a small chosen tribe of “real artists.” But in reality, everything we do requires making creative choices, although we seldom recognize that fact. The ways in which we dress, set up our homes, do our jobs, the movies we see, and even the people we involve ourselves with—these all are expressions of our creativity. It is our erroneous beliefs about creativity, our cultural mythology about artists (“All artists are broke, crazy, promiscuous, self-centred, single or they have trust funds”) that encourage us to leave our dreams unfulfilled. These myths most often involve matters of money, time and other people’s agendas for us. As we clear these blocks away, we can become more creative.

What factors keep people from being creative?

Conditioning. Family, friends and educators may discourage us from pursuing an artist’s career. There is the mythology that artists are somehow “different,” and this mythology of difference inspires fear. If we have negative perceptions about what an artist is, we will feel less inclined to do the diligent work necessary to become one.

On a societal level, blocked creative energy manifests itself as self-destructive behavior. Many people who are engaged in self-defeating behaviors, such as addicts of alcohol, drugs, sex, or work, are really in the hands of this shadow side of the creative force. As we become more creative, these negative expressions of the creative force often abate.

Abstract image of man looking up at sky - The Artist's Way turns 25

One of the central themes of The Artist’s Way is the link between creativity and spirituality. How are they connected?

Creativity is a spiritual force. The force that drives the green fuse through the flower, as [poet] Dylan Thomas defined his idea of the life force, is the same urge that drives us toward creation. There is a central will to create that is part of our human heritage and potential. Because creation is always an act of faith, and faith is a spiritual issue, so is creativity. As we strive for our highest selves, our spiritual selves, we cannot help but be more aware, more proactive and more creative.

What is the most common misconception about creativity?

The most common misconception is that we would have to leave our current lives in order to pursue our dreams. It is easier for us to use our jobs, families, financial situations, time obligations, etc., as a way (or ways) to keep us “safe” from the anxiety caused by stepping out of our comfort zones into the creative process. When we allow ourselves to be thus thwarted, we deny ourselves tremendous joy. The most effective way to center confront blocks is to form creative cluster groups in the lives we’re already leading.

Read more from Julia Cameron (along with Emma Lively) in PROSPERITY EVERY DAY: 10 daily affirmations to guide you on your path to creative, spiritual and financial fulfillment»

Front cover - The Artist's Way turns 25Julia Cameron has been an active artist for more than three decades. She is the author of more than 30 books, including such best-selling works on the creative process as The Artist’s WayWalking in This World, and Finding Water, and her most recent title It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. Find her online at JuliaCameronLive.com.

Excerpted with permission from THE ARTIST’S WAY: 25th Anniversary Edition by Julia Cameron, from TarcherPerigee, a division of Penguin Random House. Copyright Julia Cameron, 2016.

image 1: Stephen Ransom (Creative Commons BY-NC-SA); image 2: Alice Popkorn (Creative Commons BY)

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