The Artist’s Way: Week 1

2013.12 Artists wayLast week, I wrote about beginning to work my way through “The Artist’s Way at Work,” and this week finds me posting about the contents and assignments from Chapter One. The first thing I realized as I read my way through the introduction and Chapter One was that I had forgotten how much the book focuses on your inner self and voice. The second thing I remembered was that one of the reasons I didn’t finish the book last time is that the assignments (the “Tools”) really are work.

There are three authors listed for this book: Mark Bryan with Julia Cameron and Catherine Allen. However, most of my friends and online resources will call this “The Julia Cameron book.” For purposes of my journey I am going to simply refer to Julia Cameron when writing over the next few weeks.


The book’s introduction gives an in-depth view of the way the book’s chapters are set up, about the writers, and what the goals are for you. It even includes a “getting started” Tool, which is basically an assignment to get you going before you officially begin the 12-week series.

There are two quotes from the book I want to share. The first is about the importance of creativity in today’s economy; this applies in particular to those of us who are knowledge workers. (And let me take this opportunity to recommend that you read “The Rise of the Creative Class” if you haven’t already.)

Intellectual Capital — ideas as money, money as ideas – is today the real currency of the business world.


This book is based on four ideas:

  1. We are all creative.
  2. Increased creativity is a teachable, trackable process.
  3. All of us can be become more creative than we are, and this will make us happier, healthier, more productive, and more authentic in everything we do.
  4. The business environment will increasingly reward those people who are able to be creative.

It is this belief that prompted me to once again try to make my way through this book.

TOOL: Entering the Gate

Before you start the 12-week process, Cameron recommends that you do some housecleaning. Take a blank sheet of paper and list “your fears, your angers, and your hopes” for the process you are beginning. Basically, write down what you want to accomplish and what you think is going to go wrong or get in the way.

The First Transformation: Part One
Week One — Emergence

The very first week you start the assignment that will last the entire 12 weeks: Morning Pages. This is perhaps the most identifiable Tool of the book. It’s certainly the one that I most remember. However, there are a handful of other assignments that are important as well; this includes creating a list of “secret selves” which represent different facets of your personality. You will use these “selves” as part of other assignments as you move forward.

If you haven’t already, please consider getting a copy of the book. You really need to get access to Cameron’s examples and the explanation on the tools and the basis for why each was set up in the way they were.

TOOL: Morning Pages

Three pages of longhand writing first thing in the morning. You should write about anything and everything. Don’t try to pick a topic. Don’t try to censor yourself. Write exactly what you feel and think in that moment. Remember that the pages are a safe place (you will not show them to anyone else). Just write and write fast; let the words flow. The idea is to let your words connect you to what you are really thinking and feeling.

There are a few rules to this (below are the ones I’m following, slightly modified from the ones in the book):

  • You must write three pages every day. If today you write more than three pages, then tomorrow you will still write three pages.
  • The pages must be 8 1/2 X 11. Small pages will not help you achieve the goal of the writing.
  • Write first thing in the morning. Don’t wait until after you’ve begun your day, had breakfast, or done your morning routine. And don’t write in the evening; writing in the evening will turn these into journaling and change the result.
  • Set your clock to start early. The pages are going to take time and affect your morning schedule. You will need to make time to get the three pages done.
  • Do not re-read them or edit them. Write them and move on.
  • Keep them private. Do not show them to anyone.

TOOL: Creative Colleague

Find a trusted friend to work this process with you. For my purposes, those of you on my social networks and on this blog will be my creative colleagues.

TOOL: Secret Selves

Cameron describes how we all have multiple inner voices. The assignment is this: Take a blank sheet of paper, number from one to five, and list, name, and describe your secret inner selves. Try to identify the voices that influence how you make decisions as well as the ones that try to tell you that things won’t work out. Try to be kind in your description of these inner selves; remember that they are you.

TOOL: Listening to the Chorus

This is where you refer to your list of Secret Selves. “Ask” each to write an insight or opinion on your current work environment. Try to get into the “character” of each self when you write the insight. Pay attention to the differences in how each “views” the situation.

TOOL: Inner Mentor

You are going to need to set aside 45 minutes and you will need quiet, privacy, a pen and paper. “Ask” your older, wiser Inner Mentor to write you a supportive personal letter. The purpose is to start getting you to provide “good” dialogue from an inner voice. This is going to be a change for many of use who are more used to having our inner voices channel negativity instead of support.

TOOL: Creative Contract

At the end of Chapter One is a creative contract that you are asked to fill in and sign. Among the things you need to commit to are “excellent self-care” (adequate sleep, diet, exercise, and comfort) for the 12 weeks of the process.

Good luck!

And so it begins… I will begin my morning pages on Monday. Good luck to us all!

* * *

My “The Artist’s Way at Work” journey:

  • A new year, a new project: navigating The Artist’s Way
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 1 — Week One summary and assignments
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 2 — Week Two summary and assignments, and review of Week One
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 3 — Week Three summary and assignments, and review of Week Two
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 4 — Week Four summary and assignments, and review of Week Three
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 5 — Week Five summary and assignments, and review of Week Four
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 6 — Week Six summary and assignments, and review of Week Five
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 7 — Week Seven summary and assignments, and review of Week Six
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 8 — Week Eight summary and assignments, and review of Week Seven
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 9 — Week Nine summary and assignments, and review of Week Eight
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 10 — Week Ten summary and assignments, and review of Week Nine
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 11 — Week Eleven summary and assignments, and review of Week Ten
  • The Artist’s Way: Week 12 — Week Twelve summary and assignments, and review of Week Eleven
  • The Artist’s Way: the last week — review of Week Twelve

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About Sandra Fernandez

Sandra Fernandez is a former Library communicator, tech enthusiast, book lover, and blogger. In addition to her main blog at, you can find more of her writing at Follow her on Twitter, subscribe to her Facebook posts, or circle her on Google+.

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