The Artist’s Way: Invitation

The last time I spent any time with a book by Julia Cameron, I got into an altercation with my Writer. She hovered over my desk, whining relentlessly about how everyone else’s Muse went for long walks and exotic dates, sipping hot tea and macchiatos at tables adorned with fresh cut flowers.

I lost my temper and whipped a pencil, aiming between her doe eyes. She slunk away whimpering to the showers. Not long afterwards, I looked up to see her dripping form, wrapped in a towel and reaching out from the dim shadows of my office with a crumpled, soggy scrap of paper.

I sighed and read the shower-smeared ink. It turned out to be my very first poem.

Ms. Cameron and I have not yet reconciled.

But seduced by the intoxicating power of senseless banter and wordplay with L.L. Barkat, I reviewed a few book club options and watched in disbelief as I mouthed the words, “Let’s plan on The Artist’s Way.

One of us believes I’ve matured enough to handle it this time. One of us is not so sure.

The book is considered by many to be a classic in learning to cultivate practices that will help unlock the creative process. In her introduction, Ms. Cameron calls it an “into-the-water” book that has helped readers move from “the embankment into the flow of a creative life. They went from not doing to doing, from not trying to trying, from stunted to flourishing.”

This is a twelve-week course, but we’ll be selecting five or six lessons to focus on together (if you have a don’t-miss chapter, let me know in the comments). The book club will start on Wednesday, May 23, with the introductory sections and Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety. Come and join the discussion in the comments, and link up any posts you write on the book.

My Writer, still rubbing that spot on her forehead, thinks it’s a terrific place to start. When she doesn’t think I’m paying attention, she whispers that she’s really excited to take this journey with you.

When I don’t think she’s paying attention, I steal her coffee mug.

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by LW Lindquist.


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In May we’re exploring the theme Roses.



  1. says

    Lol, Lyla! :) I hope you put coffee in it after you steal it.

    And, you never know… drinking from her mug might just do a little reconciliation-magic 😉

  2. says

    I’m currently working with The Artist’s Way. I find the inner child work (Describe your childhood room, your childhood accomplishments, your Monster Hall of Fame, to name just a few) to be marvelous tools for unleashing the artist/child who was warned over and over that the people who produced plays, starred in movies, wrote bestsellers, etc, came from another planet! Best Wishes.

    Margo Christie
    Nostalgia Maven, 1940s Pin-up at Heart, Writer of Literary Novels that feature Nostalgic Backdrops and Creative but Fallen Characters who Yearn for the Limelight.

  3. Donna says

    Hmmm…. I’m kind of loving this idea….!!!
    Have wanted to do this ‘course’ for ages but didn’t have the money to do it online with her, and didn’t have anyone to play with who would just do it as an informal exploration! So, this looks just right – if y’all don’t mind a tweatspeak newbie lurker who hasn’t really thrown in yet… :O)

  4. says

    Lyla, My daughter gave me The Artist’s Way for my birthday years ago (one of her favorite books she said). I’ve started it twice and never gotten very far. I think I’m just too lazy. I’m willing to give it another go. Somehow I think it will be more fun doing it with you!

  5. Sheila Dailie says

    Excited yet a bit tentative. I agree with Linda that this format might actually be enough accountability to play/work at rediscovering the inner child that knew how to play.

    Lyla, you have challenged me to find an image and name for the better side of me that encourages me to explore the potential when I’d rather just sit back and stagnate.

  6. says

    From the Trying to Trying

    Don’t start with a lost pencil
    when Julia Cameron’s paying

    attention. She smeared ink
    over my desk the last time

    I mouthed that everyone else’s
    Muse is recovering. I reviewed

    her few options, considered that
    The Artist’s Way is to help

    plan relentlessly long walks
    with book club readers, sipping

    matured tea to help unlock
    the five or six options looked

    up one time on a twelve-week
    creative journey with us.

    She hovered over macchiatos.
    Lost, crumpled, I but sighed.

    I have not yet reconciled learning
    practices with exotic, hot dates

    reaching out and rubbing that spot
    on you, in a towel, dripping life,

    flourishing in a don’t-miss discussion
    on focus, the senseless seduced

    by the intoxicating. Handle it,
    Princess! Be L.L. Don’t think

    she’s whining and aiming doe
    eyes for power. Cultivate whimpering

    “Into the showers!” Link up
    at tables for fresh comments.

    Be excited. It’s a terrific place,
    my office. See you Wednesday.

    Disclaimer: All words used in the crafting of this found poem are Lyla’s own. Just look for them.

  7. says

    LOL, Lyla! I had forgotten about your tenuous experience with Julia, but this brings it all back. This one will be fun to spy on. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find some time to play along.

  8. says

    Thanks, all! I hope you’re going to join us.

    Princess, there’s no point in taking the mug if I’m not going to drink from it. :)

    Sandra, five or six lessons (of the twelve). Times however many of the tasks in each lesson you’d like to do. Get set, my friend.

    Thanks for your encouragement, Margo. And Donna, please! Come out of the shadows. I need all the help I can get!

    Linda, it’d be great to have you along. We’ll be gentle. Promise!

  9. says

    Sheila, it’ll be great to have you along.

    And oh, Megan. What can I say?

    Laura. Oh, Laura. Can you believe this? I think perhaps it’s penance. :)

    Maureen! I think you’re twisting my words! Handle it, Princess. Be L.L. Be excited. (I’m off to the showers to cultivate whimpering.) Please say you’ll keep this up. :)

  10. Donna says

    Yup. I’m going to do this… I ordered my copy today…. and strangely I feel I have already purchased it before! Oh well, one for a gift if I ever find it. I listened to Reflections on the Artists way on audio book through our public library’s online service… loved every second of it!

  11. Laura Brown says

    I seldom write poems and haven’t in a few years. But you had me at “pencil, aiming” and she had me at “from the embankment into the flow.” I’m wading in.

  12. says

    Come on in, Laura. We may as well all get our shoes wet.

    Kimberlee, you cut me to the heart. Snark? That you would think I would do such a thing…

    No fear, Connie. Please don’t stay in the shadows. Of course I’ll be gentle, to you. It’s my own phantom that brings out my ire. :)

  13. says

    I don’t know that I’m brave enough.

    The book, I have it, sitting there on my shelf.

    It still shutters when I walk past it, all worried I’ll yell at it again.

    But maybe I need to find my way past the 5th chapter and past my own arrogance and give it a go.

    Maybe, just maybe.

  14. says

    Seeing that I own this entire series, and that I have experienced something so similar to Lyla that I sit in awe at the moment, I will have to say trembling with fear that I will again give this program a try. Last time I stuck my toes in the check the water, but with you beautiful ladies to encourage me, I believe I will dive in head first!


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