Julia Cameron

One thing I learned from Julia Cameron’s Festival presentation at Kripalu on March 7 is that she was once married to the director Martin Scorsese, and helped him write the screenplay for TAXI DRIVER!

Cameron shared the outlines of her early life, showing over and over how her audacity and refusal to be discouraged served her creative muse and helped her become the celebrated and successful writer she is today.

Like Socrates, who always said that he followed his “daemon” or inner voice when it came to decision-making, Cameron said that at crucial moments in her life, she heard a voice giving her direction on what to do next.

It was in response to a “voice” she heard while rambling in the West Village of New York City that she began to teach back in the 1980s, and her teaching led to her phenomenal best-seller, The Artist’s Way, which has sold millions of copies and has, in her words, paid the bills so that she could write what she wanted.

“If we exercise our creativity,” she said, “there is a force that comes to support us.”  The question becomes, how do we tune out, ignore or respond to our inner censor (Cameron calls hers “Nigel”), in order to allow the creative juices to run uninhibited?

Julia Cameron still swears by the practice that she outlined in The Artist’s Way, the faithful writing of three “morning pages” a day.  “The morning pages are a greased slide to autonomy,” she said with absolute conviction.

In the morning pages, we can learn to respond to our own “Nigels” with equanimity.  “When Nigel attacks, I just say, ‘Thank you for sharing,’ and I move on,” she said imperturbably.  “The truth is that the more original the work you’re exploring, the more vicious the attacks will be.  But those vicious attacks are actually telling you that you’re heading in the right direction.”

Cameron emphasized that creative people need to find “believing mirrors,” people who will “reflect back to you your genuine possibilities as an artist. Optimistic, enthusiastic, and generous, such people are friends to our work. They bring us courage to go forward,” as she said in a recent interview.

It is essential, Cameron says, to have what she calls a “creative cluster” of kindred spirits to encourage and stimulate each other to overcomes obstacles and do the creative work we were born to do.

Creative clusters,” she says, “where we gather as peers to develop our strength, are best regarded as tribal gatherings, where creative beings raise, celebrate, and actualize the creative power which runs through us all.”

Cameron calls this a “Sacred Circle,” which allows us to “midwife dreams for one another.  We cannot labor in place of one another, but we can support the labor that each must undertake to birth his or her art and foster it to maturity,” she says.

This is exactly the spirit we are trying to create with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers this month.

It was quite an honor to welcome Julia Cameron into our Sacred Circle of women artists here at the Berkshires.

With any luck (and a little help from Kripalu!) she will return often to bring us the inspiration, wisdom and encouragement we need to sidestep our own “Nigels” and unleash our full creative powers.