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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

Game Changer: The Artist’s Way



The Artist's Way Cover

I “worked” The Artist’s Way in 1994, a year after I moved to Connecticut. I say, “worked” not read. If you read it and do not follow the prompts with actions then nothing changes.

 

Early in my 15 years living in Connecticut, I was viscerally unhappy. Then I met an artist who introduced me to this book and to a group that was conducting a workshop based on it for 12 weeks. That changed EVERYTHING for me. That and psychotherapy. I moved into an artist’s community because of that 12-week journey, and finally began living and working as a visual artist and freelance writer.

 

Julia helped me to understand that an artist is ONE WHO MAKES ART. It’s not about fame, money or awards. Her mentoring was a game changer. And it informs everything about how I live today.

 

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Some (of Many) Artist Way Quotes that Resonate for Me

Quotation Marks

“Be willing to paint or write badly while your ego yelps resistance. Your bad writing may be the syntactical breakdown necessary for a shift in your style. Your lousy painting may be pointing you in a new direction. Art needs time to incubate, to sprawl a little, to be ungainly and misshapen and finally emerge as itself. The ego hates this fact. The ego wants instant gratification and the addictive hit of an acknowledged win.” 

 

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Movie Camera



The point of the work is the work. Fame interferes with that perception. Instead of acting being about acting, it becomes about being a famous actor. Instead of writing being about writing, it becomes about being recognized, not just published.”  





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“If I have a poem to write, I need to write that poem – whether it will sell or not.”

 

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“To be an artist is to recognize the particular. To appreciate the peculiar. To allow a sense of play in your relationship to accepted standards. To ask the question “Why?” To be an artist is to risk admitting that much of what is money, property, and prestige strikes you as just a little silly.” 

Paint Palette




“If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God’s sake let yourself do it.”  






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“Creativity is a spiritual practice. It is not something that can be perfected, finished, and set aside. The stringent requirement of a sustained creative life is the humility to start again, to begin anew. It is this willingness to once more be a beginner that distinguishes a creative career.”

 

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Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control. This is frightening, and we resist it.”

 

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“Bright ideas are preceded by a gestation period that is interior, murky, and completely necessary. Hatching an idea is a lot like baking bread. An idea needs to rise. If you poke at it too much at the beginning, if you keep checking on it, it will never rise.”


Microphone



“It is a paradox of creativity that we must get serious about taking ourselves lightly. We must work at learning to play. Creativity must be freed from the narrow parameters of capital A art and recognized as having much broader play.”






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Paint Palette




“In order to achieve escape velocity, we must learn to keep our own counsel, to move silently among doubters, to voice our plans only among our allies, and to name our allies accurately.”






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“As creative people, we are meant to encourage one another. That was my goal in writing The Artist’s Way and it is my goal in teaching it. Your goal, it is my hope, is to encourage each other’s dreams as well as your own.”



Dress



“People frequently believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in the particular, the focused, the well observed or the specifically imagined.” 







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“Art is not about thinking something up. It is about the opposite – getting something down. The directions are important here.”


Chef






“We are the instrument more than the author of our work.”







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“I remind my students that their movie already exists in its entirety. Their job is to listen for it, watch it with their mind’s eye, and write it down.


Pencil

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“Instead of enjoying the process, the perfectionist is constantly grading the results. Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough.”

 

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Piano




“Question: Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn how to play the piano? Answer: The same age you will be if you don’t.”

 






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“Kids are not self-conscious, and once we are actually in the flow of our creativity, neither are we.” 


Pencil and Paper

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“Doing the work points the way to new and better work to be done.”


Music Notes




Focused on process, our creative life retains a sense of adventure. Focused on product, the same creative life can feel foolish or barren.”

 






Paint on Paper




“There is always one action you can take for your creativity daily.”










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“Fantasizing about pursuing our art full-time, we fail to pursue it part-time – or at all.”


Person silhouette




“Creativity requires activity, and this is not good news to most of us. It makes us responsible, and we tend to hate that. You mean I have to do something in order to feel better?”






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“What other people may view as discipline is actually a play date that we make with our artist child. I’ll meet you at 6:00 A.M. and we’ll goof around with that script, painting, sculpture…”

 

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Drawing on computer screen

“As artists, we cannot afford to think about who is getting ahead of us and how they don’t deserve it. The desire to be better than can choke off the simple desire to be. This compare-and-contrast school of thinking may have its place for critics, but not for artists in the act of creation. Let the critics spot the trends. Let reviewers concern themselves with what is in and what is not. Let us concern ourselves first and foremost with what it is within us that is struggling to be born.”  



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“Sometimes I will write badly, draw badly, paint badly, perform badly. I have a right do that to get to the other side. Creativity is its own reward.

Scribble on paper

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“As an artist, I do not need to be rich but I do need to be richly supported. I cannot allow my emotional and intellectual life to stagnate or the work will show it. My life will show it. My temperament will show it. If I don’t create, I get crabby.

 

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“To kill your dreams because they are irresponsible is to be irresponsible to yourself.”

 

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Directors cut

“We speak often about ideas as brainchildren. What we do not realize is that brainchildren, like all babies, should not be dragged from the creative womb prematurely. Ideas, like stalactites and stalagmites, form in the dark inner cave of consciousness. They form in drips and drops, not by squared-off building blocks. We must learn to wait for an idea to hatch. Or, to use a gardening image, we must learn to not pull our ideas up by the roots to see if they are growing.”



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“As gray, as controlled, as dreamless as we may strive to be, the fire of our dreams will not stay buried. The embers are always there, stirring in our frozen souls like winter leaves. They won’t go away. They are sneaky. We make a crazy doodle in a boring meeting. We post a silly card on our office board. We nickname the boss something wicked. Plant twice as many flowers as we need.”

 

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Seamstress




“The first rule of magic is self-containment. You must hold your intention within yourself, stoking it with power. Only then will you be able to manifest what you desire.”







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