Most of us have no idea of our real creative height. We are much more gifted than we know.
~ Julia Cameron, author, The Artist’s Way
The following is an interview (reprinted with copyright permission) that appeared in the Amazon bestselling book Kensho: A Modern Awakening, Instigating Change in an Era of Global Renewal. Cameron’s timeless advice rings true now, more than ever — read on for some inspired assurance that we are all born creators.
Julia Cameron has had a remarkable career as an award-winning playwright, filmmaker, poet, and writer of 30 books, including the crime novel The Dark Room and the recent drama Mozart’s Ghost. But Cameron is best known for her hugely successful works on creativity.
The Artist’s Way, her most successful book, has sold more than two million copies worldwide. Her follow-up bestsellers, including The Vein of Gold, Walking in this World, and The Right to Write are also considered flagship books, renowned for their liberating theories. These powerful enablers of creativity are currently taught in universities, churches, human potential centers, and even in tiny clusters deep in the jungles of Panama.
“My books are not creative theory,” says Cameron. “They spring straight out of my own creative practice. In a sense, I am the floor sample of my own tool kit. When we are unblocked, we can have remarkable and diverse adventures.”
Is true creativity the possession of a relatively small percentage of the population?
No, absolutely not. We are all creative. Creativity is a natural life force that all can experience in one form or another. Just as blood is part of our physical body and is nothing we must invent, creativity is part of us, and we each can tap into the greater creative energies of the universe and pull from that vast, powerful, spiritual wellspring to amplify our own individual creativity.
As a culture, we tend to define creativity too narrowly and to think of it in elitist terms, as something belonging to a small, chosen tribe of ‘real artists.’ But in reality, everything we do requires making creative choices, although we seldom recognize that fact. The ways in which we dress, set up our homes, do our jobs, the movies we see, and even the people we involve ourselves with, these all are expressions of our creativity. It is our erroneous beliefs about creativity, our cultural mythology about artists (“All artists are broke, crazy, promiscuous, self-centered, single, or they have trust funds”) that encourage us to leave our dreams unfulfilled. These myths most often involve matters of money, time, and other people’s agendas for us. As we clear these blocks away, we can become more creative.
What factors keep people from being creative?
Conditioning. Family, friends, and educators may discourage us from pursuing an artist’s career. There is the mythology that artists are somehow ‘different,’ and this mythology of difference inspires fear. If we have negative perceptions about what an artist is, we will feel less inclined to do the diligent work necessary to become one.
On a societal level, blocked creative energy manifests itself as self-destructive behavior. Many people who are engaged in self-defeating behaviors, such as addicts of alcohol, drugs, sex, or work, are really in the hands of this shadow side of the creative force. As we become more creative, these negative expressions of the creative force often abate.
How does your book, “The Artist’s Way”, free people to be creative?
The primary purpose and effect of The Artist’s Way is to put people in touch with the power of their own internal creativity. The book frees people to be more creative in many different ways: First, it helps dismantle negative mythologies about artists. Second, it helps people discover their own creative force, access it, and express it more freely. Third, it provides people with awareness about their self-destructive behaviors and allows them to see more clearly what the impediments on their individual path might be. Finally, the book helps people identify and celebrate their desires and dreams and make the plans to accomplish them. It teaches people how to support and nurture themselves, as well as how to find others who will support them in fulfilling their dreams.
One of the central themes of “The Artist’s Way” is the link between creativity and spirituality. How are they connected?
Creativity is a spiritual force. The force that drives the green fuse through the flower, as Dylan Thomas defined his idea of the life force, is the same urge that drives us toward creation. There is a central will to create that is part of our human heritage and potential. Because creation is always an act of faith, and faith is a spiritual issue, so is creativity. As we strive for our highest selves, our spiritual selves, we cannot help but be more aware, more proactive, and more creative.