They say a book has the power to change your life and I believe them. I have a big stack of treasured books that never leave the side of my bed because they mean that much to me. I don't think I've ever been made a worse or unhappier person for reading, but some books alter and shift your perception beyond the imaginable, that much I know.
Some books take your breath away with the realisation that someone else out there feels the same way that you do. That someone was magically able to put those feelings into words that work. That someone was able to identify that feeling and bring it into your consciousness like a long lost friend. That someone is able to make you feel like you aren't going mad, being dramatic or having a crisis, mid-life or otherwise.
I bought The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron early last year and for the first few months I didn't realise it was that book because it sat on a shelf whilst I plucked up the guts to open it. Intimidated by the title and the realisation that by opening the book I would be admitting to myself that I thought I could be an artist of some sort, that I could be a creative being, I was petrified that if I allowed myself to believe such a thing there would be no going back, I would actually have to do something about it.
New to the practice of journaling, I had started to write a lot (a really lot) in November 2013, I had started to change in so many, quite radical and life-changing ways that I was starting to feel a bit nervous - was I falling to pieces? What was going on? I thought this writing business was supposed to make me feel better?
I felt sick, constant sore throats and headaches, I felt unsettled, I didn't like my clothes, my hair, my make up. I started making sweeping and resolute decisions about what I was doing, who I wanted in my life and who I did not. I became quite sure of things that had often been confusing and I felt genuinely a bit badass, embracing the introverted me and sticking two fingers up at a society geared towards the extroverted, the normal.
The Artist's Way surprised me hugely because Cameron describes exactly what I was going through, saying that morning pages (or just journaling as I do) was the key:
"...each day's morning pages take a swipe at the blur you have kept between you and your real self. As your image becomes clearer it may surprise you".
No shit Julia!
This is how I learned that pouring my heart out every day in my journal was the path to living a creative life and rather than going a bit bonkers, I was in fact just becoming me. The me that wasn't me, the girl who wasn't there.
To be able to allow creativity to enter my world in a non-threatening and easy way was a bit awesome. Cameron teases it out of you bit by bit and makes it a wonderfully restorative journey, no hard work, no guilt. She has two essential tools for success:
- morning pages - three pages of mind dump every morning in your journal, and
- the artist's date - taking time out to go a date with yourself at least once a week.
Making time for your mind to run free and taking the time to enjoy yourself by yourself. That is it, sounds simple, it is simple, maybe that's why The Artist's Way is such a huge success. It was hands down the best thing I purchased last year, I really don't know how I lived without it and I recommend it to anyone ready to go on a journey of self discovery. Anyone who fancies meeting their authentic self and anyone who needs a kick up the bum to get some shit done.