Live Creatively
Artist + Writer
Marcella Nordbeck
Guest Blogger: Tarcher / Penguin

12 Week Guest Blog Series

12 chapters and 12 blogs in 12 weeks – could I do it?
That was the question I posed in January 2010 as I began
reading Julia Cameron’s classic, The Artist’s Way.

Could I read a chapter a week, write daily morning pages,
go on weekly solo artist dates to, “Discover and Recover my Creative Self,” AND write and post a blog about it each week?

2 weeks into the project the book's publisher Tarcher/Penguin invited me to be a guest blogger on their website.

Week 12: Faith

Twelve chapters and twelve blogs in twelve weeks – could I do it? That was the question I posed three months ago as I began reading Julia Cameron’s classic book, The Artist’s Way. Could I read a chapter a week, write daily morning pages, and go on weekly solo artist dates to “discover and recover my creative self” while working a full-time day job, meeting painting and writing deadlines, and writing and posting a blog about it each week?

It was an ambitious endeavor to follow the “spiritual path to higher creativity” as outlined in The Artist’s Way and to post a blog about it each week, but somehow I...

Week 11: Autonomy

Eleven weeks, and eleven chapters, into Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and never have I felt more creatively blocked. I’m on deadline to post this blog and finish a painting for an upcoming group art show and I don’t feel inspired to complete either. I feel like I’m running on empty...

Week 10: Self-Protection

During week ten following Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way I circled back around to last week’s chapter on, "recovering a sense of compassion" and reflected on a time in my life when I took a creative U-turn...

My memories of running from my creativity were triggered by this week’s solo artist date when I watched the film The September Issue. It’s a documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry. It follows Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief, and Grace Coddington, Art Director, as they pull together the September Vogue – the highly anticipated annual issue in which the designers’ fall collections are revealed.

Not following a career in fashion has to be the biggest U-turn I’ve taken. It’s the only explanation for why I’m not working in fashion in some capacity today. Throughout high school I poured over the pages of Vogue and made all of my clothes in the sewing classes I took each semester. During my senior year of high school I studied Fashion Merchandising for three hours a day. And when I wasn’t modeling I worked as a dresser – dressing other models during fashion shows. But my proudest accomplishment during my last year of high school was when...

Week 9: Compassion

 Nine weeks into Julia Cameron’s 12-week course outlined in her book The Artist’s Way and I’m exhausted! Instead of “recovering a sense of compassion” this week, I spent every free waking minute working on a new painting for the next Fine Arts Ministry juried art show at Mile Hi Church in Lakewood, Colorado.

My morning pages fell to the wayside as I laid down a layer of paint upon waking each morning. Lunch was spent driving 30 minutes round trip from work, to home, and back to work again just so I could put down yet another layer of paint during the remaining 30 minutes of my mid-day break. Painting was also the first thing I did when I got home from work each day and the last thing I did before collapsing into bed each night.

Was neglecting my morning pages, failing to do any of the weekly exercises, and abandoning this week’s solo artist date worth it? Perhaps I will think so if my piece is selected for the show. But I won’t know...

Week 8: Strength

Maybe I’m being lazy, but I don’t think so. Week 8 following Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and I have found that my favorite solo artist dates are the ones when I stay home alone. I blew off the art shows I had planned to check out in LODO and the RINO art district. I didn’t even go to First Friday Art Walk for the second consecutive month in a row. Instead, I spent the evening listening to music while I prepared dinner. Later I watched back-to-back encores of the last two Project Runway episodes while folding laundry. I missed their original airing because of my busy schedule. Watching a reality TV show may not sound like a viable artist date, but Project Runway is the only show I follow because I enjoy watching the fashion designers’ creative process as it unfolds.

After a lifetime of shyness and isolation, and my relocation from Detroit to Denver last year, I am finally getting out in the world, having new experiences, and meeting new people. It’s great, but lately...

Week 7: Connection

Hallelujah! As I made my way through week seven of Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way I didn’t have to have a biopsy! When I went in for the procedure on Tuesday my doctor told me he no longer saw any abnormal cells, that my body appears to have healed itself, and that he did not feel a biopsy was necessary. I just have to go back every six months for the next year for follow-up tests.

Having had two biopsies, and invasive surgery, in the past what did I do differently this time to turn my immune system around from when I received my doctor’s call until I was scheduled for the biopsy? Was it being more...

Week 6: Abundance

Eureka! I’m painting again! Six weeks into The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s 12-week course for “discovering and recovering your creative self,” and I’m painting! I developed a sketch and test boards for the commissioned piece I’m working on, made progress on my painting for the HOPE Ball auction, finished a painting titled, “Melting into Blue,” the first from a new series I started in November, and decided I’m going to submit a piece into the next juried art show at Mile Hi Church. But his productivity has come at a cost...

Week 5: Possibility

Week five following the 12-week course outlined in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way has been the most challenging week yet. Writing my three daily morning pages Tuesday hit such a raw nerve that I spent the rest of the day crying. I was beyond embarrassed as I tried to hold myself together at the office I work at as the tears continued to flow throughout the day. A “normal” person would have gone home sick, if they had bothered to go into work at all. But fearing both the pile of work on my desk, and the thought of being home alone with my emotions, I pushed through.

I felt better by Tuesday night after watching Louise L. Hay’s movie You Can Heal Your Life as this week’s solo artist date. Unlike last week’s attempt, I didn’t fall asleep. But by Wednesday night the levy broke and my tears were replaced by a more dramatic unblocking of buried emotions. Having no other physical symptoms, I knew it wasn't the flu. But as I kneeled on the bathroom floor, praying for the nausea to pass and repeating the Al-Anon slogan, “Let go and let God,” I experienced...

Week 4: Integrity

During week four of following Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way I found myself resisting the morning pages. I only wrote four out of the seven days. On the days I did write my pages, it was struggle. It wasn’t until the week’s end, when I was overcome by a good cry, that I began to realize I need the morning pages to exercise my demons and keep my creativity flowing. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself when I read in chapter four on page 80 that, “extreme emotions of any kind – the very thing that morning pages are superb for processing – are the usual triggers for avoiding the pages themselves.”

Throughout the week I didn’t think I was avoiding the pages. But as I stayed up late each night putting the final touches on my essay, I Find Myself Painting, it wasn't difficult to...

Week 3: Power

Week three into Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way and I feel like an emotional basket case! Thank heaven for morning pages so that I have an outlet to purge my pent up emotions that the weekly readings and exercises are surfacing. I’m starting to understand that to unblock my creativity I have to deal with my unresolved anger and resentments – but most of all – fear...

This week I began hosting the women’s writing group I am a member of at my apartment. We’ve been meeting every other Monday in a coffee shop in downtown Golden, but we were finding it difficult to...

Week 2: Identity

Week two of following Julia Cameron’s 12-week course outlined in her book The Artist’s Way was another busy week! I attended my first board meeting at the Denver Art Society, had drinks with artist and curator Jennifer Mosquera and Russell Wilbar at his artist reception at Tastes Wine Bar & Bistro in uptown Denver, saw a screening of Our City Dreams – a documentary about five female artists navigating the New York art scene, and had brunch with the Dana Cain – Denver’s event planning diva.

With my full dance card I didn’t find time to complete the suggested week two exercises, but I did manage to write my three morning pages each day and I scheduled a solo artist date with myself – a stroll through historic downtown Littleton on Saturday afternoon. So considering this past week was even busier than usual, completing two out of three Artist’s Way assignments isn’t bad, not bad at all.

What have I gained during these first two weeks following Julia Cameron’s course? For starters...

Week 1: Safety

Writing three morning pages each day, as suggested by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, is much easier said than done. Week one and I only managed to write them three out of seven days. Not bad, considering I only averaged five to six hours of sleep every night for the past week, but if I were being graded on this self-appointed assignment, I wouldn’t be passing.

Why so little sleep? In addition to working full-time in an office, I’m a full-time working artist, and a soon to be published author. That’s right, later this year I’ll be adding author to my list of credentials. An essay I am writing about the role art has played in my life and the necessity for me to honor my creative spirit is being published in a book...
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"Nice post - and great job with the blog.
I've been following closely.
Congrats on completing your goal and continued success with the book!"

~John, writer
"Keep breathing, Marcella. Maybe this week is JUST what's needed for next week's recovery of self-protection to really pack a punch!
I can comisserate with you and am reminding myself to keep breathing, too."

"I think I may have to pull out my copy
of the Artist Way, and it is dusty!
The only part I've kept up is my artist date, you've inspired me yet again!"

~Indigene, artist
"Looking forward to following your journey
as an artist, writer and woman.
You are an inspiration to me."

~Melissa Kline, writer/publisher
"Thank you for sharing your amazing and wonderful life with us. I am in the midst of a similar journey and it is wonderful to hear yours! Blog on dear one!"
~Indigene, artist
"It is fun for me to watch you open up
and trust your truth. I have learned that fear
is often time really excitement.
Shift how you see it and cut thru it as
the true courageous warrior that you are.
You are doing it all!"

~Joan Therese, collector
"Wow, Marcella! I'm truly touched by
your work! And as far as inspiration goes, you've got it! You are a guiding light
for me... thank you & take care!"

~Kelly, artist