Book Review: The Artist’s Way For Retirement

This version of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has many of the similar (wonderful) tools she talks about in all her books: Morning Pages, Artist Dates, goal setting advice, list making ideas.   The core unique thread in this retirement version is the element of writing your memoir in 12 segments.  The goals of the memoir writing appears to be identifying a possible passion area you might have put to the side and/or wounds that interrupted your creativity that need to be healed.   You should also achieve a sense of the accomplishments you’ve had in life as you review your entire life journey to date.

Note: According to many, this is the same exact book as It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again!

I’ve been doing her Morning Pages activity for a couple of years now; it is a form of active meditation for me. Morning pages are simply 2-3 pages, stream of conscious, hand written every morning.   I write out my resentments, my anger, my fears, my desires, my joys, and my gratitudes.   I clarify my emotions, my action plans, and my daily goals.  Often I add in what I enjoyed about the previous day or what I am looking forward to with anticipation. I have re-started to write my asks – asking the Universe for guidance or help.

I need to re-instate Artist Dates.  I view Artist Dates as a date with my inner child.  I’ve never been one who likes to do things by myself, especially things that are new or out of my comfort zone. I also, maybe wrongly, worry about time away from hubby creating distance between us.  The few dates I’ve taken have all been wonderful, but I certainly have not achieved her guidance of one weekly!

I liked the fact that all the case studies (person examples) in this book were of retirees. I did find it challenging that few of the examples were similar to me – a married, no-children woman coming from a male-dominated career.   She continues to focus on creativity in the arts as being the thing to achieve in your life– writing, painting, acting, or filmmaking were the most common with a few cooking, dance, or crafting examples.  

The book does acknowledge the need for healthy living habits and connecting with others; the common desire among retirees to travel (which was then linked to the creativity of photography of course); and even de-cluttering which seems to be a big trend among retirees now.

I have only started the memoir component, unlike blogger Molly T  who is almost finished with her weekly writing in this space!  My memories of the earliest years are weak and I feel the need to explore differently – maybe relook at old family photos?   I’m wondering if this memoir approach will also begin to identify the birth of some deeply held beliefs that I know are holding me back.  And possibly help shift those beliefs. 

Reading this book renewed my dream of writing (more than a blog; let the story teller inside be heard) and crafting (jewelry).   But, my perfectionism wants me to have instant success; my high standards fear being a beginner and not being viewed as an “expert”.  Yes, there are some of those beliefs that need some shifting!

I know many others are blogging about their working through this book and sharing wonderful insights. If you have not explored it yet, I encourage you to look into it…. in either form – The Artist Way for Retirement or It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.

 

 

48 thoughts on “Book Review: The Artist’s Way For Retirement

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot about Julia Cameron and her books. I’ve not yet read one but I’ve picked up thoughts and ideas from others, like you.

    I’ve been working on Morning Pages since the beginning of the summer – to limited success. I can’t say I write every day. I figure I’m doing well if I do it 3 times a week, but I have enjoyed even that limited success. Writing ‘raw’ without any pre-thought or intention has resulted in some interesting notes – things I consider AHA moments which left me wondering where on earth those thoughts had suddenly bubbled up from.

    I’m not sure I’m into the whole memoir thing though. I suspect it’s an idea whose time hasn’t yet come for me. On the other hand, I love your idea of asking in your Morning Pages for what you need. omg – I’m horrible at that and this is an idea that I will happily integrate into my life.

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    1. Joanne, To everything there is a season…. memoirs might be something you want to engage in sometime… or maybe not at all!

      I’m not every day on my morning pages either… sometimes I sleep in and am rushing to get to something planned! Like this morning. But I do find if I miss more than 2-3 days in a row, something doesn’t feel right. And yes, I’ve had a few Aha moments, a few blog post ideas, and some real truths … not sure where those bubble up from either!

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  2. I, too, have struggled with the art dates. I don’t mind doing things alone but I am never sure what things I should be doing. Participating in an mask making activity at our art museum tomorrow. Thinking that would count.

    My early childhood memories are vague but I have found writing what little I do remember sparks more memories in more detail. And then I ask my sister and brother for their memories which also helps. We have had some good conversations lately about childhood memories thanks to Julia Cameron!

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  3. I’m happy for you Pat. It sounds like this book could start you down an exciting new path. I connected to several things you said. I sometimes don’t do things, because I worry my husband will not want me to take the time away from time we could be spending together. I have also blogged about the need to be willing to be a beginner at something and not worry about looking foolish or inept at a new endeavor. I will definitely note this book for reading down the road, maybe when I retire.

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    1. Christie, If you want to learn about many of the tools, think about The Artist’s Way (original) or The Artist Way at Work. All three books have similar constructs and many of the same tools, but use different examples. The original is targeted towards someone with “artist block”; the work one is about creativity in the workplace.

      Also, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who worry’s about taking time away from a relationship. I spent many years as a workaholic and did that repeatedly, so my awareness of it now is very heightened. And given his “Irish Twin” passed away last year, I do worry about how much more time we’ll have together. I know – useless to worry! But I do enjoy his company in life!!

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  4. I really need to pick this book up again, it was by my side for most of my early months of retirement as I battled with the change from a legal career to what I hoped would be more of a creative lifestyle. It certainly helped in those early days and then I put it down, not because I’d succeeded but because retired life became busy. Thank you for reminding me about some of the highlights in it, I think I’m now ready for some more Artist Dates.

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    1. I’ve found often that books find me when I am ready. I had The Artist’s Way on my bookshelf for years! This one (whichever name you look at) is unique in it’s focus on being in retirement. It might validate your new creative lifestyle or give you some inspiration to take it to the next level!

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  5. I have been a fan of Julia Cameron and it has been a few years since I read any of her work. This book intrigues me and although some of it sounds familiar from her other work, it also seems to be focused at our particular stage of life. I also think I would now approach her work with a new set of eyes because I am in a different stage of life than I was when I first read her work. Thanks for the title clarification so I don’t buy the same book twice!

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    1. Michele, Yes it is very similar to her other works. I’ve now read 3 of The Artist’s Way and all have similar core ideas. But this one is unique to the retirement aspect that I found very helpful. I think you would as well….after you’re not feeling so overwhelmed form the move. 🙂

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  6. Don’t give up on the memoir, Pat. I also doubted I’d have many memories but when working through Cameron’s questions I found remembering sounds and smells helped more than I could have ever predicted. From 0-5 I uncovered the memory of the sound of the teakettle whistling three times a day when my mother boiled water for my father’s tea. That prompted me to buy a whistling teakettle, and now I feel close to my father every time I hear it. I’ve stalled out at age 30 and need to move on to the second half of my life memories. Things get harder here – I underwent a divorce, and many losses. Maybe that’s why I’ve taken a hiatus. But I know I can do it and so can you! #MLSTL

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Molly. What a neat idea abut the teakettle. I bought a book I recalled my mom reading to me when I was a kid and am going to re-read it. I will get back into it…if only to say I accomplished it!

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  7. Hi Pat – I think I’m the only Midlifer who hasn’t read this book. I feel like I have after Molly’s weekly posts and from other reviews – it obviously strikes a chord with those who are looking for some closure and some new direction. I’m glad you’re finding it helpful and it’s interesting that you don’t have a lot of childhood memories – I don’t either. #MLSTL and shared on my SM

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    1. Hi Leanne, Sorry for late response…you went to spam! No idea why. I was working on memoir again today and just letting glimpses of memories come. It’s intriguing how many of my current beliefs about myself were created back in my childhood/teens! I am a fan of Julia Cameron though – I like her morning pages tool, and some of the other exercises she has in her books. Has definitely helped me be more positive. thanks for sharing.

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  8. On your recommendation I bought this book, and I’m loving it! I have a memoir bubbling, although yet to find the focus to really get down to it. I’ve never done morning pages, although I’ve read often about them – do you find they help you, and how? Thank you so much for your guest post on Lifestyle Fifty – it’s published today 🙂

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    1. Johanna, LOL on the slip. I’m quite complimented to be in the same thought as Donna. 🙂

      As for the Morning Pages, I find them quite meditative. I’ll write about how I’m feeling about life, how I’m feeling physically (It’s been helpful to be able to note for the doctors when things started – I’m dealing with post-cancer treatment side effects), how I’m feeling emotionally. I write about things that made me feel good the previous day, what I’m grateful for, and what I’m looking forward to. I write about things that are frustrating, making me angry. And sometimes I write out a plan of what to do about them. I write out my dreams (literal ones) if I can remember them and then I write out what I think my unconscious brain is trying to tell me. I write out my affirmations…or sometimes I just re-read them – they are on the first page of my journal. I write out my plans for the day, even little things…and when I do, it’s surprising how often the things get done. OK, not everything, every morning. I usually write for between 15-30 minutes. It’s helped me practice positivity. It’s helped me set and achieve goals. It’s identified blog topics. It’s now a habit and if I miss 2-3 days, I feel off!

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  9. I’m SO glad you are having a go at this book! I am a HUGE fan of using photos to prompt the memory. Let me know how it goes!

    On another note… Julia touches upon that perfectionism you feel. Be prepared … you will be writing that book and crafting jewelry in no time 🙂

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    1. Thanks Molly. You’ve been a major inspiration on the memoir side of it. I pulled hard-photos yesterday. Of course, there are very few given we only took photos at Christmas and birthdays… and even then, it was mostly “slides”. I’ll need to find the digital file of photos; hubby converted all my mom’s slides to digital a few years back. I’m hoping to get back into it over next few weeks…. we’re going to our beach cottage where we are off-the-grid. So time to dig into reading & writing.

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    1. The book is “designed” to be done as a chapter a week, for 12 weeks. Of course, I didn’t do it that way, but if you approach it that way you might find you can fit it in. For me one of the best things has been the Morning Pages habit, which I find quite meditative. I do it over my morning coffee…one of the few times I am multi-tasking!

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  10. I read and used The Artist’s Way a number of years ago. I still try to write Morning papers a few times a month. I picked up this book and have started reading it. Ii a enjoying the Memoir section and will challenge myself more as I go through teh book.

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    1. Thanks Suzanne. As I’ve actually now read three different versions (original, at work, and for retirement), I can say that all are inspiring. Quite a bit of overlap, but the focus of application of tools and the examples in each do provide different insights. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to do some self-discovery!

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    1. Deb, If you’re intrigued, you might want to look at her original one – The Artist Way, which introduces many of the tools but does not focus on memoir. It’s the 25th edition now in print! There’s also ones for “at work” and one “for parents”. I actually read the “at work” one because I had it on my shelf from when I was working. That one takes many of the tools and applies them to a working environment…another option that might fit your current life better.

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  11. Hi Pat! Thanks for the head’s up that this is the same book as her “It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again—Discovering Creativity & Meaning at Midlife and Beyond” which I read and reviewed myself last summer. I am a fan of Julia’s and particularly her morning pages so I always find some great reminders in her books. And YES to morning pages. I too consider them an ongoing meditation process and after doing them for over 20 years I can say they have helped me become the writer that I am today. I have never found her “artist’s dates” to be particularly compelling though. Not sure why except that I am naturally curious and constantly searching for ways to stretch my mind and creativity without them. And while lots of people find her focus (especially in this book) on memoirs to be helpful, I must confess that doesn’t interest me at all. I’m too busy thinking about all the good things to come–maybe that means I should write sci-fi????? Glad you’re enjoying the book and finding inspiration. ~Kathy

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    1. Hey Kathy, I’m pretty sure it was your review that made me realize it might be the same book! Of course, now with so many others doing that one, I am sure. There are minor differences in chapter titles, but ….it’s the same book. Very weird publishing choice.

      I enjoy some sci-fi so it would be interesting to see your take on it. Maybe a blog post written in 2025 would be a start! I know I’ve been wanting to do some 5-year forward scenarios writing (on my writing list as is more of the memoir stuff). I did future trend writing when I was working…it’s not as easy as it sounds. We have a hard time thinking very far out. I have an author I read who writes her series in 2060. If you read the early books, a lot of the sci-fi stuff is reality today!

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  12. Pat – like Sue I’m not in the right headspace for this book yet – perhaps because I still work and partly because I spent many years working on my memoir….I am considering morning pages for the purpose of writing every day though.

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    1. Janet, I think you might enjoy the original The Artist Way. It’s target audience is actually someone with an artistic block… like writers block. It’s a similar construct, 12 weeks of exercises, including introducing Morning Pages and Artist Dates as 2 tools to help stimulate creativity. No memoir thing!

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  13. I can really relate to: “my perfectionism wants me to have instant success; my high standards fear being a beginner and not being viewed as an expert.” I think that is what keeps me from exploring my artistic side more. Note to self: Get over it!

    I think it’s so interesting how many people who have read and reviewed this book find it so hard to go on artist’s dates… I find that so easy and enjoyable. I don’t do it enough but that’s more an issue of time, not desire or ideas. I’m off to check out Molly’s blog.

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    1. Janis – I need the same “Note to self!” I was reading a blog yesterday called “its OK to be just OK at making Art”… very inspiring! https://www.nextavenue.org/ok-making-art It made me wonder if there is something local like this for me!

      So have you always been OK with going solo? That’s the challenge for me on Artist Dates – I like to do stuff with someone, not alone! Any advice (since you find it easy)? You’re a good one to help me as you are also married….so many of my other friends who find it easy are single, so it’s a fact of life for them.

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      1. Deb chiming in here about doing things solo – when I first became a widow, I found it difficult to go alone to events or even to eat out at a restaurant. But when the alternative was to stay at home and miss things I really wanted to see/do, I made myself get out there. At first I was self-conscious but I quickly realized no one cared that I was alone and that I shouldn’t either. Now it doesn’t bother me at all.

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      2. When I think of artists dates, I picture taking myself to a store, studio, gallery, or museum where I can find inspiration. I have no problem going to any of those place alone… and actually prefer it because I can take all the time I want (my dilly-dallying drives my husband crazy sometimes). I don’t feel as if anyone is looking at me funny for being alone and sometimes I end up having really nice, interesting conversations… often with others enjoying their own company. As for as events, where there are a lot of people that I’d be expected to chat with… I’d rather be with someone else. I’m not good at mingling in large groups of strangers.

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  14. Hi Pat, I think it was you and Molly Totoro who introduced me to this book and I have referred to it many times. Julia explains it all perfectly and in a common sense way. I wasn’t ready to do the ‘tasks’ but still found the book so helpful and wish I had read it when I first retired. Thanks for reviewing and I would highly recommend it. xx

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    1. Sue, I read her first book (original The Artist Way) when I was recently retired and it was truly helpful. I am a strong believer that my morning pages have been instrumental in helping my transition! (And they give me ideas for blog topics, too.) I’m still going to explore the memoir task…. it’s a huge undertaking but Molly was so inspiring in her doing of it.

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