Write Your Way to Sobriety: A Look at the Artist’s Way

If you’ve never heard of the Artist’s Way, you may be surprised to see it recommended here. How a newly sober person may ask, can a book that’s supposedly dedicated to uncovering “a spiritual path to higher creativity” help you grow more confident in your sobriety?

Yet, some corners of the world don’t describe the Artist’s Way as an artistic guide at all. Certain circles of sober alcoholics, people in remission from eating disorders, and domestic violence victims call it a recovery manual — and no, you don’t have to feel particularly artistically inclined to make use of it, and you don’t have to be spiritual either.

Some people may encourage you to journal your sobriety journey, but picking up the Artist’s Way can take this practice a step further by helping you heal through writing.

What’s the secret, you ask? That has a lot to do with the book’s author, Julia Cameron.

These excerpts explain why:

“I had never thought drinking made me a writer, but now I suddenly thought not drinking might make me stop. […] I told myself that if sobriety meant no creativity I did not want to be sober. Yet I recognized that drinking would kill me and the creativity.”

She was wrong — the Artist’s Way, written after Cameron got sober, turned out to be her masterpiece.

If you want to use the Artist’s Way to become a better artist, you can do that. But here, we’ll look at the book as a powerful recovery tool. We wouldn’t want to give too much away, but will offer glimpses of the gems you’ll find there.

Morning Pages

Julia Cameron’s morning pages are a wonderful way to help you clear all the mental gunk that may otherwise fester and threaten your sobriety.

At its root, the practice is incredibly simple. Sit down, each morning, with a pen and paper and start vomiting your words onto the page, allowing your consciousness to run wild. Then go about your day, having dealt with those cobwebs, and never look at what you wrote again. Rinse and repeat the next day.

How can doing this help you? Try. If it works for you, you’ll know.

Artist’s Dates

These are Cameron’s way of encouraging you to take time out from the world to focus on your creative self. Set one to two hours aside every week to devote entirely to your chosen creative pursuits — writing, painting, or photography, for example, in a new setting.

If you’re writing, artist’s dates can be as simple as sitting in a beautiful park and describing what you see — or as elaborate as checking out a location you plan to write about in a novel.

Artist’s dates can help people in recovery reconnect with themselves, foster a sense of freedom, discover new interests, or break old habits.


Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Some people won’t like this. If you’re ready to be open-minded, give affirmations — central to the Artist’s Way — a try anyway.

People who are familiar with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) will recognize some elements of that in the book. Cameron’s affirmations first challenge you to identify and challenge core negative beliefs and then replace them with healthier alternatives.

This being an artist’s book, they’re about art — but you can replace that with beliefs about your recovery if you want to.

The next portion includes a list of affirmations to open your mind to your creative self. Again, they can be adapted to be more relevant to your recovery goals.

Creative Exercises

Creative exercises that truly inspire you to think about yourself in a different way are littered throughout the book. Yes, they’re designed to help you tap into your creativity, but these exercises also teach sober alcoholics to cope with challenges and embrace their progress.

Shadow Work

Influenced by Jungian psychology, the Artist’s Way encourages you to confront — step-by-step — the parts of ourselves that we hide or deny. Writing is a powerful way to explore this side of yourself and unlock answers to burning questions you have about the things that drove you to drink.

The ultimate goal is to integrate these parts of yourself in a healthy way, to gain a deeper understanding of the things that make you you, and to embrace the stronger self you are becoming.

Weekly Check-Ins and Goal Setting

Weekly check-ins (with yourself) allow you to reflect on your recovery through writing and to track your progress. Cameron also encourages artistic goal setting — which can help you gain structure and routine during your recovery.


Cameron’s commitment to self-compassion as a powerful way to unlock creative energy is present throughout the book. It goes without saying that everyone in recovery can also use a hefty dose of the same. You can use writing exercises as a way to reflect on your journey and learn to accept yourself.


Spirituality is central to many a recovery journey — but we understand that it doesn’t appeal to everyone, and some people actively recoil from anything religious or spiritual.

If you’re thinking about getting a copy of the Artist’s Way, you should know that the entire book is full of spiritual references. Cameron speaks about God in many different ways, sometimes in conventional ways and sometimes in more esoteric ways.

These spiritual aspects don’t have to stand in your way if you’re not into that. It’s OK if you just tolerate mentions of spirituality, and you may find they help you even if you’re the most ardent atheist to ever have walked the Earth.

If you must, replace mentions of God with other notions that matter to you — your family, for example, or the concept of connecting with yourself and others.

A Final Word

Opening the Artist’s Way for the first time is strange. This is a book unlike any other. Yet, if some part of it appeals to you, Cameron’s book can offer many things — structure, a new interest, better self-understanding, self-forgiveness, and healing among them.

You don’t need to be an artist to start using it — although Cameron would almost certainly argue you already are one. You just need to be willing to try something different. There’s a reason this odd book is so popular among people in recovery, and you may discover it if you decide to take up its work.

Category: Articles
Martijn van Eijk
Martijn is a passionate creator and the driving force behind StopDrinking.com. He created this website to assist individuals and their families in conquering alcohol addiction and finding a joyful, fulfilling life after alcohol. With a deep understanding of the challenges they face, he empowers readers with valuable insights and practical guidance on their journey towards recovery. Author of the Stop Shaking Book.