recovering the creative self

An old friend from college days has commented on this blog. “I never imagined, knowing you in your teens/early 20s, that all of this creative genius was inside your head,” she said.

In my teens and early 20s, I didn’t know the creativity inside my head either. It had been scared right out of me. Years and years of school and society and unhelpful people had chipped away any confidence in my own creative abilities. I didn’t think of myself as a creative person – I regarded creativity as a special privilege reserved for others.

My experience was by no means unique. Countless people have their creative selves stomped out of commission for one reason or another, or for many reasons. ‘Creative types’ are assigned their own place in our social order, and we uphold the myth of the artist as either gifted and talented beyond belief or tortured internally beyond relief. Yet what a loss: creativity comes in all shapes and sizes and is a universally-shared human trait. There are myriad ways to express it – not one ‘right’ way.

Julia Cameron’s classic book The Artist’s Way explores this phenomenon through a 12-week programme of reflective practice. She calls it “a course in discovering and recovering your Creative Self.” The book digs into the various ways that we sell ourselves short, and helps to work through the issues that are preventing the creative self from flourishing.

Starting in mid-February, I will be hosting an Artist’s Way check-in group. (“Check-ins” is Cameron’s term for the end-of-chapter review sessions she has included, as a way to observe the internal processes that the course sets in motion.)

The group is free and limited to 8 places; it will take place here in Edinburgh where I live. You can find out more here and register for a place on Eventbrite. If you live too far away to join me, please hold a good thought for the group as we embark on this project. And if you live nearby, or know of anyone who would be interested in coming along, please do let them know.

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