Review: Artist’s Way Toolkit

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions are mine.

Regular readers of this blog know that I'm a huge fan of Julia Cameron.  I've done the program laid out in The Artist's Way on my own and in groups led by Julia herself (in Taos, New Mexico, one of my favorite places on earth).  I think that Julia's work on creativity is seminal and that nobody has beat it yet for its sheer power to get people creating.  I also believe that every writer and artist can benefit from her book.

So I leapt at the chance to review Julia's new site, an online collection of tools from the book.   There are all kinds of interactive goodies here, including a daily quote from one of Julia's books, such as "The reward for attention is always healing" and your choice of creative affirmations from Julia, like, "I love others for their true selves."

The site is cleverly laid out like a notebook with tabs featuring:

  • My Contract
  • Artist's Dates
  • Artist's Way Exercises
  • Creative Pages
  • Creative Notes

You'll notice that "Creative Pages" and "Creative Notes" both feature blank pages which you can fill with your own words, but there is not a space anywhere for Morning Pages (three pages written stream of consciousness first thing in the morning).   This is because Julia believes that morning pages should be written by hand, because the hand has a direct line to the brain and that is lost a bit when you introduce a keyboard to the mix.

There's a few more links across the top of the notebook, one called "My Creativity Library," which leads you to a page of where you can buy Julia's books.  Smart marketing. 

I really wanted to like this site and was excited to play around with it, but honestly, I've been less than thrilled with it overall.  The main value of it that I can see is access to the affirmations, quotes, soundbites and exercises. For some people who like to do creativity exercises on the computer, it would be a boon, but I'm old fashioned and I like to write them out by hand, just as I do morning pages.  And it is a bit of a shame that you can't do morning pages on the site, as they are one of the most vital parts of Julia's program.   Overall, I'd be nervous that all my notes and ideas that I'd collected on the site would be lost if I forgot to resubscribe or decided not to.  I'd rather keep such things in a journal where I know I can access it.

Have you read The Artist's Way?  What did you think about it? 

, ,

12 Responses to Review: Artist’s Way Toolkit

  1. J.D. 06/14/2012 at 04:59 #

    Hi Charlotte. I dabbled in it and then pushed it aside. I need pull my copy out and seriously look at it again.

  2. Zan Marie 06/14/2012 at 06:52 #

    I love THE ARTIST’S WAY, but don’t think I’d like the website at all. Then I draft everything by hand. My mind edits too much with I’m on the keyboard. Thanks for the review, Charlotte.

  3. Charlotte Dixon 06/14/2012 at 06:58 #

    It really is a useful book, J.D.  Maybe I should pull my copy out and do it again, too.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 06/14/2012 at 06:59 #

    Yeah, if you're a hand-drafter, this is not going to be for you.  Concepts are great, I just like my hand-written notes!

  5. Karen Phillips 06/14/2012 at 07:14 #

    I loved The Artist Way and would like to go back to it again for a refresher course. I have done morning pages ever since a group of three of us went through the book in 2001, even in my dry period of no-creative-writing, which was a long, long time. Morning pages help with a lot with planning, understanding my feelings, and understanding relationships. Good post!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 06/14/2012 at 07:38 #

    I can't believe you ever had a period of no-creative-writing, you are so prolific now.  Glad you're a fan of the Artist's Way, maybe we should do a refresher course here!

  7. Heather Jenkins 06/14/2012 at 08:39 #

    For me, The Artist’s Way only works in book form. The whole technology angle seems to get in the way of quieting the mind to find your path. I can understand an online toolkit for those poor souls who are so addicted to the computer they can’t fathom using a pen to purge and create. But I thought Julia Cameron urged followers to simplify and declutter in order to tap into the vein of gold inside them. That’s a little tough to do, in my opinion, with all the “noise” of the Internet and its myriad distractions. I am a paper and pen girl. From my heart to my brain to my hand. Perhaps I need to forgo hitting snooze three times and actually scribble my morning pages again. Thanks for the review!

  8. Charlotte Dixon 06/14/2012 at 10:06 #

    Heather, I did morning pages for ten years non-stop.  Now I go in and out on doing them.  But when I start to feel stagnant or blocked, I start them immediately.  They are so helpful in so many ways.  And, I totally agree with you on the computer vs. not.  Really hard to be contemplative amidst the noise of the internet.

  9. Barbara Shallue 06/14/2012 at 11:30 #

    I read the Artist’s Way years ago and kept morning pages for years. I’ve tried to start them again, but my mornings are already so full that I find myself having to skip them. Maybe I’ll try them again and pull out my old copy of the original book. I think I would get more from that than the online site, I believe. Thanks for the review!

  10. Charlotte Dixon 06/14/2012 at 12:20 #

    It is so interesting to me how many of us have benefited from the Artist's Way–and how we all seem to agree that offline is the way to go.  The website does have some of the exercises on it and it made me long even more for the whole deal, the book itself.

  11. Beverly 06/19/2012 at 11:31 #

    The Artist’s Way changed my life when I went through it in 2001. I agree with others, though, that it is the quietness of hand writing and being off line that makes it so useful to me. Thanks for the review.

  12. Charlotte Dixon 06/19/2012 at 11:44 #

    We all do seem to be in agreement about this.  Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Leave a Reply