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The Path of the Creative Warrior: A Conversation with Julia Cameron

by Lori Shridhare

Q What are the common impediments that block creativity? Do you find that people commonly perceive impediments as bigger and more ingrained than they actually are?

Julia The most common impediment to creativity is fear. People are afraid of being judged. They want to be perfect, and people allow themselves no “practice shots. ”

Q In The Artist’s Way, you emphasize the idea of “creativity recovery.” What does this mean?

JuliaTypically, people have drifted away from their authentic self. I teach them how to find and support that self. When we say “recovery, ” we are talking about literally re-covering the distance we have drifted.

Q You go on to teach that there are “two pivotal tools in creative recovery: the Morning Pages and the Artist Date.”

Julia The Artist's Way teaches two basic tools: Morning Pages and Artist Dates. Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, morning writing-strictly stream of consciousness. They provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize, and synchronize the day at hand. Morning Pages are about anything and everything that crosses your mind. If you think of it as building a “spiritual radio kit,” with Morning Pages you are “sending.”

The Artist Date is assigned play, a once-a-week, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests and enchants you. With the radio-kit analogy, the Artist Date has switched the dial from “send” to “receive.” The Artist Date trains us to tune in to the “still, small voice” within.

Q In your workshops, what are the common issues you find among participants that impede their creative expression?

Julia When people enter my workshops, they are typically self-conscious. They have a fear of self-exposure. I do an exercise called U-Turns in which participants recall and retrieve incidents and experiences that blocked them. Remembering and revealing these damaging and shaming experiences moves them into bravery.

Q What’s the one exercise you would recommend to a busy person who wants to be more creative, but doesn’t have much free time?

Julia Morning Pages are the basic tool of all creative recovery. Busy people find that taking the time in the morning to write their pages actually frees up windows of time during the rest of the day.

Q How does creativity help not only to produce beautiful work and art, but also in resolving everyday problems and situations?

Julia When we’re in touch with what we think and feel, we are better able to deal with others.

Q What can we do as a society to encourage more creativity on a larger scale?

Julia Creativity must begin on an individual level. Working with the tools, we become more creative ourselves, and this creativity is contagious.

Q How do solitude and silence help the creative process? Are they essential?

Julia Solitude and silence are both valuable to the creative process, but I learned to write Morning Pages in the midst of a busy household.

Lori Shridhare is a copywriter, brand consultant, and journalist. Her writing and communications workshops emphasize how the creative process can benefit the marketing strategies of nonprofits and corporations.