Thursday, June 14, 2012

BlogHer Review: The Artist's Way Toolkit

As part of the BlogHer review program, I was offered the opportunity to have trial access to the Artist's Way Toolkit .

The Toolkit is an integrated platform that prompts writers to create "Morning Pages" every day and weekly writing assignments in the form of "Artist Dates." There is also an iPhone and iPad app (which I didn't use). I've been using the program for a couple of weeks, and I have to say that I just don't think this technology matches my writing style very well.

The program seems aimed at busting the dreaded writer's block, and as such it has creative assignments (for instance, I was told to go get my favorite candy from childhood and write about it or to walk through a part of my city that I rarely visit and journal on my experience). It's not that I never get writer's block--I most certainly do. But my writer's block has always been temporary, and I work on so many different projects simultaneously that the solution is usually simple: set it aside.

Now, obviously, this doesn't work when I'm up against a deadline, but in those cases, I'm typically not blocked, but procrastinating, and experiments in candy and exploration aren't going to stop me from procrastinating.

In a true block--as in, I can't think of anything else to say on this topic and I am stuck--I know myself well enough to know that I have to stop trying. The words will come when the time is right, and if the words aren't coming, the time isn't right.

written in slumber

I do think that the premise of writing every day is a wonderful one, and it's one that I adhere to pretty strictly, but I don't really need a special program to do it. I blog or write in Word or write on napkins. Also, I lost some of the writing I did on the Toolkit because I thought I'd saved it when I hadn't. Bummer.

Also, one other little gripe: this week's "Artist Date" told me to "Go to the beach alone." Thanks, Toolkit, for reminding me that I live in an utterly land-locked flyover state and can't get to an ocean anytime soon.

That said, I did appreciate the focus on daily writing, though I agree with this BlogHer article by sassymonkey on how much I suck at "morning" pages. I can't write in the morning. Mornings are hectic. I have to get up, walk the dogs, get my daughter ready, drop her off at daycare, and get to work. There's no writing going on in the morning. I can write in the evening though, or over lunch. No problem. Also, I'm a strong proponent in a more universal sense of writing; I don't have to have my pen to the page (or fingers to the keyboard) to be "writing." I write when I walk. I write when I'm getting ready in the morning. Any moment that allows me time for reflection and thought can be one of the early stages of writing, and it very often is.

Unlike sassymonkey, however, who thinks that writing daily in a journal is easier than writing daily in a blog, I thrive off of a sense of audience. I write best when I am writing to someone, with someone else in mind. That's why my attempts at journaling privately have never been as successful as my attempts at blogging. The Artist's Way Toolkit does little to feed that audience-driven motivation.

At the end of the day, the Toolkit felt more like a class assignment than a breakthrough, and it didn't prompt any writing that I felt particularly excited about. I see how it could be helpful in a different set of circumstances or to someone who deals with writer's block in different ways.

What do you think? Would the Toolkit help you with your writing? You can join the discussion over at BlogHer and see what others are saying, too.

Compensation Disclosure: This is a paid review, but--as always--the opinions and thoughts are fully my own.

Photo credit: matryosha

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