I’ve loved Julia Cameron from the moment I discovered her in 1993, and started haltingly to do the Morning Pages, which I do off and on to this day.
I’ve read nearly all of her books, although never saw her plays.
I just finished “Floor Sample” by Julia Cameron, her creative memoir. The book gave great insight into the creative process, and how important it is to first of all take care of yourself during periods of great creative insight.
I began to worry about Julia as I continued to read the book. I began to worry about all of us who are firmly rooted on this path of listening to our inner world as we recognize that the outer is a mirror of the inner. As I read, I began to see that there is a fine line between insanity and genius.
I loved the book and know Julia Cameron more thoroughly now than ever before. The fact that she is like all of us who falter and sometimes fall on the Road Less Traveled, helped me and I suppose all of us who read the book, know that she is certainly creative, and by no means is she perfect, just like the rest of us.
This “creative memoir” stays strictly with the facts, according to Cameron in an interview I recently read. She says she took no artistic liberties in writing the book. She boldly confronts her life and freely tells us exactly what it was like for her to become a sober, recovering alcoholic, to raise her daughter as a single mother, and to suffer through two divorces, one to film maker/director Martin Scorcese.
Writing the book was obviously a catharsis for her as it is a catharsis for those who read the book.
Years ago, I made a poster of the five step creative process and hung it up near my writing desk.
I can still see the poster, long gone, but still in my mind’s eye. The five steps include Preparation, where the creative yearning begins.
The second is Incubation, when symbols formulate in our mental reasoning.
The third is Illumination or Inspiration, when we allow our minds to transcend reasoning and merge with the unknown in periods of contemplation.
Through this process, a new vantage point is discovered.
Creative Inspiration is then converted back into symbols that we verify in the Confirmation stage.
Finally, the product of our creation is formed and manifests in the world of the senses and is validated by synchronicity, dreams, and through the act of inspiring other people.
This is called the Validation stage.
Much of “Floor Sample” describes the Cameron style of creativity. For the most part, she writes her Morning Pages every morning, then continues to create what she is working on whether a book, opera or musical.
Her writing seems to come easiest for her probably because she has always seen herself as primarily a writer. She weaves her writing projects into everyday life. She takes long walks, as a writer before her time also recommended, Brenda Ueland. And the artist date is done weekly, or more often whereby a visit to a museum or zoo or planetarium is ventured as a means of filling the well and preventing depletion of the free flow of inspiration.
She works on many projects at one time. She collaborates with other artists.
The five steps of the Creative Process is an integral part of her life.
I wonder if she would add to or define the Creative Process differently?
I wonder if it is necessary to define it?
As I write this article, it occurs to me that the act of defining this amazing process also limits it.
By using the stages of the creative process, we are attempting to map virgin wooded territory where old growth forests of old wise tree beings are ready to gently guide our psyche.
I believe Julia Cameron would say that Morning Pages, artist dates and long walks are the catalyst for great creative insight.
Preparation, incubation, illumination, confirmation and validation are nurtured through the Cameron creativity tools.
These steps were defined in 1928 by GrahmWallas. I remember when I was first introduced to the steps and made the poster, I wondered how the heck I was supposed to jump right in and apply these to my own creative impulses. I remember asking the great creator this question and as time enfolded, I discovered Natalie Goldburg, then Julia Cameron.
Rather than read about creativity or think of all the abstractions surrounding it, I did what they instructed and like a toddler first learning to walk, began to develop faith in my own abilities.
I realized my own creativity depended on no longer comparing my progress with anyone else’s.
I realized my own creativity simply rested on picking up the pen and writing upon the clean white page.
Or picking up my violin and playing for an entire afternoon.
And encourage others to find their own path to happy artistic development.
The art of creation is spiritual and it heals. It awakens every cell in the body, and allows a feeling of great connection and joy to expand consciousness.
So I thank Julia Cameron for her extensive body of work. I absolutely know that because of her, I now write boldly and fearlessly!!
And what a beautiful life, because of it! OM