Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Artist's Way Toolkit {A Review}

As part of BlogHer Book Club, which I have participated in often, I was recently given the opportunity to review a new online tool called "The Artist's Way Toolkit". BlogHer described the Artist's Way Toolkit as follows:

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron has motivated millions of aspiring and professional artists around the world to discover and recover their creative selves. Now some of the most powerful practices from The Artist's Way have been adapted to create MyArtist's Way Toolkit, an interactive experience that will allow you to:
  • UNBLOCK yourself with powerful Artist's Way exercises
  • TRACE your creative process in your own personal Artist's Way Creativity Notebook
  • RECEIVE Daily Inspirations, Affirmations, and Artist's Date ideas from Julia
I'll be honest and say upfront that while I knew The Artist's Way was originally a book, I didn't really know anything about the book other than I imagined that the intent was to help creative people get out of creative slumps. I'd been feeling in a bit of a photography slump, and had great visions of re-kindling my passion for the craft and getting my creative juices flowing, so I signed up as a reviewer, and when my password landed in my email box, I was excited to get started.

But then I logged in, and I'll admit I was left feeling a little bit let-down. The Toolkit is billed as being an interactive experience, but it really seemed to be targeted more to individuals who had already read the book--from Artist Dates to Creative Pages to Creative Notes to Morning's a lot for a "newbie" of sorts to take in, especially considering the fact that there's very little guidance from the toolkit itself other than a very brief and largely unhelpful guide and FAQ section. There's also a 20 minute YouTube video from the author of The Artist's Way, which was actually kind of a turn-off for me--if I have 20 minutes of silence without a toddler running about, I'd rather watch 20 minutes of Design Star than a YouTube video about the Toolkit, which could have easily been summarized more succinctly in a text guide.

Now, moving on to the Toolkit itself...the idea of spending time writing and attempting to facilitate creativity each day is a good one, I think. Even the idea of "morning pages", in which the "artist" writes 3 pages each day without spending too much time thinking about what he or she is writing, is a good theory. However, it didn't take me long to discover that I think the creators of The Artist's Way toolkit and I operate on a fundamentally difficult wavelength and in a fundamentally different world--first, the "artist" is sternly cautioned that he or she may NOT (under any circumstances) type their "morning pages." For some reason, "morning pages" must always be handwritten, but "creativity pages"  (in which the "artist" essentially adds photos, poems, and whatever else happens to inspire them) are allowed to be done via the Toolkit on the computer. To me, this made no sense...I wanted to reverse things and do the "morning pages" online and the "creativity pages" by hand, in a book.

Overall, I just wasn't that impressed with The Artist's Way toolkit. It didn't make sense to me, and I wished that the suggestions would have been more targeted to specific types of art (i.e. different suggestions for photography compared to painting or writing). Unfortunately, though I faithfully checked in and thought about "morning pages" nearly every day, it just wasn't a tool that I found myself eager to use all that frequently even when I had free access to it, so I really can't picture myself actually paying for it at this time in my life.

If you're interested in reading more about The Artist's Way toolkit, pop on over to BlogHer Book Club and see what others had to say!

Disclosure: This was a paid review via BlogHer Book Club, as always, all opinions are completely my own, and receiving payment for the time spent reviewing the product does not influence my comments in any way.

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