*This is an excerpt from Living The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Enjoy! ~ ed.
I’ll begin at the beginning. This is a book about guidance, so I’ll start with defining “guidance,” and answering the most commonly asked questions. What is it? Can anyone receive it? Guidance is direction that comes from a higher source of wisdom than we ordinarily encounter. It is the response of the universe to a question, “What about X ?” Guidance is available to all of us. It is not the specialty of an elite few. Rather, anyone can ask for guidance and receive it. All that is required is an open mind. Guidance is the fourth essential Artist’s Way tool. Living the Artist’s Way is a window into my life and my reliance on guidance at every juncture. It’s an invitation to use this tool—as I do—to help navigate all areas of your life.
In previous books, I have written about the creative art of listening and prayer, and how we can be led through these practices and through our Morning Pages. Now, I take you one step further. You will see how prayer sets the stage for guidance; how Morning Pages prime us for writing guidance. With guidance, we ask on the page and we receive answers on the page. I will show you how this practice has bolstered my life and my art. My guidance and art have become how I think…how I make sense of the world. I’m listening for guidance every step of the way.
In this book, I will reveal a personal, vulnerable side, writing about how I use guidance to handle doubts in my life. Ultimately, I experience faith. Indeed, writing guidance makes for a happier, lighter life. It’s reassuring; it grounds us and can quell our doubts, anxieties, and fears. It leads to our inner wisdom and authentic selves.
It is my hope in this book to be both charming and calming. I hope you will love the deep exploration and practical application of this essential tool. Maybe my experience will demonstrate that it can be meditative—and fun—to write for guidance.
“I wonder about X,” we may think, and the wondering is a fertile ground for guidance. “What about X?” we pose the question, and we find our query being answered. Something or somebody responds to us. We “hear” information that satisfies our wondering. Guidance is simple and direct, yet powerful. Romance, finance, tangled business affairs—all are fair game for guidance. What began for me as a limited affair was soon expanded into an adventure. I found guidance to be far-reaching and trustworthy. The wisdom I had previously sought from human sources was readily available from spiritual sources instead. I well remember my excitement at this discovery. “You mean I could ask about anything?” I exclaimed.
And so I did. “What should I write about next?” became a frequent query.
Write about prayer, the answer might come back. Or, Write about friendships.
Or, in the case of this book, Write about guidance. You’ve been using it for thirty years. Say more. The guidance was right. I wrote about guidance in The Artist’s Way, and then spent thirty years writing without mentioning it again, although I was using it at all times. I came to think of it as a fourth essential tool—a sort of safety net that undergirded the three tools I already had in place.
My guidance has pointed me in fruitful directions for more than thirty years. I came to rely upon it. I quickly found that when used in conjunction with the other tools, it yielded me a surefooted path.
And so, a few words about the other tools are appropriate now. When we use all four tools in conjunction, we gain confidence in our creativity. Using the tools we attain a creative life.
The Four Essential Tools
The four essential tools of a creative recovery include Morning Pages, Artist Dates, Walks, and Writing for Guidance. Used in combination, they have helped people around the world become creatively unblocked, happier, and more productive. I encourage you to use all four of these tools. This handbook is a deep dive into the fourth essential tool, Writing for Guidance. In diary form, it is a window into how I use it in all aspects of my daily life.
*From Living The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Copyright © 2024 by the author, and reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group
Julia has been a longtime friend and supporter of Elephant Journal. Check out this conversation between Waylon and Julia speaking about her previous book, The Listening Path: