Written by: Virginia Macali
Date: August 8, 2016
Creativity is a needed skill as one shifts into the next phase of life. For many people, shifting from full time employment to another line of work, pursuing special interests, or spending time with family, requires leaving something behind as familiar routines and structures end. It may also be a time of exploring and expressing creativity.
Julia Cameron, a prolific writer, and author of The Artist’s Way, noticed that people who were shifting out of the workforce were particular drawn to her book and the classes she guided. They encountered life questions along the lines of what was next in their lives, how they would spend their time, and who they were without the identity of their previous work. Cameron says “retirement can, in fact, be the most rich, fulfilling, and creative time of their lives.”
Her recent book, It’s Never too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond (2016), is organized like The Artist’s Way. It’s a 12-week format with particular practices and reading each week. Her aim is to re-ignite one’s creativity. She claims this creativity is inherent in each of us. Her tools help readers to open up to creativity and their own lives and provide new pathways to life’s next phase.
Cameron uses these tools:
Write three pages by hand every morning. Cameron calls it “stream-of –consciousness writing.” I’ve done this practice quite a bit over the years and it feels like a brain dump. It’s time to write what’s on your mind, from worries, to what you need at the supermarket, to what you want to say in an upcoming meeting. Sometimes, deeper questions and inspirations may emerge.
Cameron provides prompts to trigger memories and focus on a few years at a time. She claims every life is interesting. Week One starts with questions about where you lived, favorite toy, favorite food, and describing a sound from the early years of life. If writing a memoir seems daunting, her prompts allow an exploration in small pieces.
3. Artist Date
Once a week you explore something new and fun on your own. Examples of artist dates include a visit to an art gallery, an unexplored area of a local park, and an out-of-the-way bookstore. There can be a lot of resistance to this practice and many excuses. Cameron recognizes this and encourages us to follow our curiosity and see how we might be inspired by seeing new things on our own.
This is a 20-minute solo walk without a friend, dog, or cell phone. Cameron claims that it lessens anxiety and allows creativity to rise to the surface. It’s a time when new ideas come to mind or solutions to problems become clear. It allows open space for something to happen that we might not expect.
If you’re moving into a new phase of life, you might enjoy trying out some of these tools or following Cameron’s light-hearted tour through the practices week by week.