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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review: My Artist's Way Toolkit

More than any other campaign BlogHer has contacted me about, I was excited about reviewing "My Artist's Way Toolkit". Due to that high level of excitement, I experienced a corresponding high level of disappointment. But this is NOT a diss on the toolkit at all. In fact, read on and you'll see a lot of praise in my post.

"The Artist's Way" - the book

A few months ago, I decided to check out "The Artist's Way," Julia Cameron's original book and method that became almost a religion for many creatives, primarily for writers, looking to "heal" their creativity and boost themselves into awesomeness. Since I wanted to get serious again about my writing after a bit of a stall, this seemed like a great approach. You can't take a writing course without "The Artist's Way" being mentioned as recommended reading.

I got the book and started out through the 12-week course with a friend. Each week consists of a reading and some small tasks. In addition, you are supposed to write Morning Pages each morning - just brain-dumping for three pages each morning by hand to get the gunk out - and go on a weekly Artist Date to ignite some creativity.

I managed to get behind because of other things going on but in general, I found a lot of value in each chapter. For awhile, I was very good about my morning pages. And then I stalled out big-time about a month ago. I still feel like I learned a lot and plan to go back to it very soon.

"My Artist's Way Toolkit" - the online site

I'm still not sure what role the online My Artist's Way Toolkit is supposed to play in the creative healing process. Is it instead of the book? In addition to the book? A community of people using these techniques? The site guides you through many of the same tasks that are in the book - Morning Pages, creative affirmations/soundbites, a contract with yourself and exercises.

What I had really hoped to gain from the online site was a community of other creatives to share with and learn from. Unfortunately, the "community" link inside the Toolkit site goes to a public site that has free forums (you don't have to be a Toolkit member) - and those forums are not very active at all.

I feel like, having already established a routine with the book, I didn't find much of value on the Toolkit site. It was a lot of the book things put online in a slightly more prescribed manner (ex. the site suggests specific activities for Artist Dates). And yet, without the very valuable weekly readings, the site doesn't really stand on its own. The real meat of the Way here is contained in those chapters.

My Recommendation

I really like "The Artist's Way" book and methods - I do recommend the book. For agreeing to do this review, I received a 3-month membership to "My Artist's Toolkit" - it costs $4.99/month otherwise. I personally didn't see any benefit to the website since I already had the book and an established routine.
I'm actually hoping that I missed something major (I'll be reading some of the other BlogHer participants' reports as well as following the discussions on BlogHer) so I can write a retraction.

P.S. There is a spiritual aspect to the book and I plan to write about that soon - look for it either tomorrow or Monday. I'll also address the way I study most instruction guides/self-help books/how-to blogs/etc.

P.P.S. I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.


C. Beth said...

It kind of sounds like a marketing person said, "Well, since the book was so successful, we should really have a good online presence too!" But maybe that "next step" wasn't necessary.

Toriz said...

Maybe they have the site more because everyone does than anything? And the idea is the site gets you interested if you stumble on to it, then you buy the book? *Shrugs*