Thursday, June 14, 2012

An Artist's Way Toolkit Review

Disclaimer:  I am being compensated by BlogHer for this review although the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

My Artist's Way Toolkit is an online toolkit for creativity (and a web-version of the artist's way notebook) based on the book An Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  I did not read An Artist's Way, but I have had access to the toolkit for about three weeks now.

First I will describe what the toolkit is and then I will tell you a few things that I learned by reviewing the toolkit.  The toolkit is basically an online notebook that looks very much like a real notebook.  It has the following (either actually "in" the notebook, or as suggestions). 

1.  Morning Pages - three pages of longhand writing daily.  It is recommended that you minimally do this when experiencing your creativity even though this is not actually done online but rather in an actual notebook.
2.  An artist's date - solo-expedition with a "task."  These tasks are provided to you as part of the toolkit.  Some of my examples were:  take a brisk 20 minute walk, visit a candy store and purchase candy from your youth, go to the beach without technology and walk, breathe, and listen.  It is recommended that if you are going to add something to your morning pages it be "artist's date."
3.  Artist's Way Exercises - These exercises are part of the toolkit and are almost like writing prompts or thought prompts
4.  Creative affirmations - affirmations from the book which can be changed by clicking on them.
5.  Creative soundbites - different soundbites which are in the toolkit and can be changed by clicking on them.
6.  Interacting with the creative community.  These are parts of the toolkit in the form of links to groups, directions for forming groups, and links to social networks on Facebook, Twitter, and more.

What I learned:

1.  I must consider myself to be fairly artistically creative already, so what I thought might be a great and deep way to strengthen my creativity often felt like a waste of time when I could be (ironically) doing something more creative! 
2.  Writing three pages longhand daily was difficult for me in grade school, and it still is.  I have not written longhand (other than lists, a few letters, and a few brief notes) in about eight years.  I found it tedious and not enjoyable at all.  I do plenty of drafting, composing, and writing at the computer.  I do believe writing longhand has a value, but I do enough of it already.
2.  I did three of the artist's dates, but I didn't really get too much out of them.
3.  I think this would be an excellent resource for people who really need to express themselves creatively and are unsure how to go about it.  I also think that if people are looking for a meditation tool, this could be it.  In other words, it would make a great road map for beginners.

One interesting thing Julia Cameron says in her introduction to the toolkit is that people know how to work.  But, people do not know how to play.  When we are told to get something done - we can do it.  We can work harder or longer hours.  But, it's different when it comes to being creative.  Many people do not know how to unleash their creativity.  I think that's probably true for a lot of people.

So, my bottom line on the toolkit - if you are having trouble expressing your creativity - this might be the buy for you.  If you are already creative - I'm not sure this is going to help you.  Follow An Artist's Way Toolkit discussion at http://www.blogher.com/bookclub/now-reviewing-my-artists-way-toolkit to learn more and be part of the discussion.

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