I recently attended a one-day workshop with Julia Cameron at the Open Center. It was based on her best-selling book of essays The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. Julia is a prolific and versatile writer best known for The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, a groundbreaking book that has sold over a million copies. If you’re a writer, or want to write, this is a book you need to read. And if you’re able to attend one of her workshops, better still.
Julia is a champion and unconditional supporter of writing and writers. For her, writing is as natural and regular as breathing and she urges us not to make it a “Big Deal”. She believes that everyone can be a writer and has developed exercises (initiation tools) to help develop and nurture the writer in all of us.
The workshop consisted of us doing several of the exercises in the book and breaking up into groups of three to share what we wrote. This was a lot of fun and Julia encouraged us to “steal” ideas that we liked from each other. We also had to give each other written positive feedback (popcorn) about what we wrote. I received some very nice comments.
- making a list of the things I love
- making a list of the accomplishments I’m proud of
- writing badly
- naming and describing my censor
One of Julia’s most well-known exercises is called Morning Pages. They’re three long-hand pages of stream of consciousness writing. You can write about anything that’s on your mind, large or small. I’m not a morning person, so I resisted getting up earlier to do them. As it turns out, I really like this exercise. It allows me to do a sort of “data dump” onto the page right after getting up. It feels especially good when I have a lot on my mind.
Another exercise she strongly encourages are Artist’s Dates. These are once-weekly solo trips to a place that interests us. The idea is to replenish our “creative well” on a regular basis with sensory experiences. She asked us create a list of things we’d be interested in doing, and I got more ideas from others in my group. I had an artist’s date to Michael’s, the craft store. It’s a fun place and I always get ideas and inspiration when I visit.
Julia likens her writing to a spiritual practice, and several times throughout the day she read excerpts from Prayers to the Great Creator: Prayers and Declarations for a Meaningful Life, a compilation of her four classic prayer books. She also did some singing, and I noticed that she has a very nice voice.
The workshop was well attended and it felt good to be in the company of so many people that share my interest in writing. I would definitely take another workshop with Julia if available.