I've been a fan of Julia Cameron since The Artist's Way, and this book makes a welcome addition to the series. Here Cameron focuses on getting past creative blocks: what to do when you feel empty inside. Or, as she writes, "the making of art when we feel we have no art in us."
After you've read Cameron, the narrative sections serve as gentle reminders. The bottom line is always the same: No matter how you feel, get to your workshop and start working! Don't worry about who will respond to your efforts -- just do the work.
Cameron is no gentle New Age dreamer. She tolerates no excuses. There's always something you can do, she says; you can find ten minutes to clean the kitchen each day.
And to get moving, she urges a commitment to continuity and structure. Structure might include the famous Morning Pages. They might include your own routine or ritual. But at the heart of creativity, she implies, is determination and discipline. Behind nearly all overnight successes you will find years of hard work and discouragement.
Cameron's exercises will keep anyone busy and productive. As she herself says, each reader makes unique choices when identifying the most helpful exercises. Some are fairly straightforward, even ordinary ("20 wishes") and some surprising and insightful ("write about yourself in the third person").
I must admit I sometimes find myself counter-arguing. Thinking of five situations that unexpectedly worked out well doesn't help me trust the present: I welcome luck but don't encourage anyone to count on it!
And I am confused by Cameron's example of exploring positive aspects of a negative situation. When someone criticizes your play, you can make some changes that lead to a better work. All too true -- but some negative situations don't "fix" that easily.
I read this book along with Judith Sills's new book, The Comfort Trap. These authors came from very different backgrounds but their guidance seems remarkably similar. Both urge a nearly identical program of discipline and commitment to structure and both authors write intelligently, from experience. Same message -- very different packaging!