Cameron begins chapter one with a reminder of every creative’s need -- support. Most often this type of creative support is redirected to other “more important” life tasks such as education or career. Parents, family, teachers, and friends may offer some creative support in a child’s early years, yet as a child grows, the advice typically turns toward avoidance of their dreams to prevent failure. It is at this point, the author suggests, the shadow artist begins. For many families, careers within the arts are counterintuitive to a social and economic reality. In other words -- you can’t make money in the arts. The sad part of this as a story for many people, is the child begins to believe this as a truth, never questioning or researching for themselves. Unquestioned beliefs become the foundation work Cameron urges her reader to explore, to further uncover their own creative potential. Her first mandate in chapter one is to “protect the artist child within.” She reminds her readers to care for the child, as any child beginning to start out life has developmental stages -- crawling, baby steps, walking, running, etc, and that “stumbles are normal.” Cameron offers a list of negative core beliefs and asks her reader to review to see which ones may be true for them. Her reminder that negative beliefs are “beliefs, not facts.” These beliefs contribute to the fear in which a person is prevented from exploring any creative measure. She prompts the reader to reframe these negative beliefs into positive alternatives. For example, negative beliefs about artists are: drunk, crazy, broke, irresponsible, etc. And for positive alternatives for artists can be: sober, sane, solvant, responsible, etc. This chapter is devoted to changing a person’s perspective through looking at old beliefs, and creating a willingness to do something different. Through setting up daily tasks, Cameron sets the tone for the rest of her book. Creating new habits to support the emerging artist within.
In her second chapter, Cameron describes some common ways a person loses a sense of identity, not only with self-sabotage of doubt attacks, but also with family and friends. She identifies these as “poisonous playmates,” whose creativity is also blocked, to “crazymakers,” who take over a person’s whole life. She expands her reader’s understanding and clarifies the behaviors of crazymakers with giving 10 examples of how these behavior takeover another person’s life such as with expectations of being treated special and blaming others when things go wrong. While it is easy to look for others who prevent us from exploring creatively, Cameron returns her reader’s focus to review how their own skepticism, aka “secret doubt,” becomes a barrier to the discovery for their own creative paths. She urges her reader to be open to creative sources, no matter whether a believer or not, that there is a power within the universe, and to shut off the potential, the possible, adds to the self-sabotage. The reader needs to keep the door slightly ajar, keep a willingness to experiment with self-nurturance, open-mindedness, and discovery. Her last area of focus in the chapter is on attention. She contrasts the blocked creative indulging in daydreams, would have’s, should have’s .. aimless in direction. To a recovering creative, focusing attention is a way to connect and survive. Cameron states that “attention is an act of connection.” She concludes the chapter with tasks prompting the reader to continue building growth habits and supporting the child artist within.
I encourage you to buy a copy of The Artist's Way for a better understanding of your own creative process. Whether you're a master artist or beginning artist, this is an excellent book.