Media Diet: Julia Cameron

I need to know what regular people are thinking about, so the
information in tabloids is really quite key. Besides, Julia Cameron
is best known as author of The Artist’s Way(Tarcher,
1992)
, the popular guidebook to unblocking the spiritual and
creative process. One surefire way to reach your creative
potential, she advises her legions of devotees, is to shut out
media distractions such as television, magazines, and newspapers.
Yet before establishing herself as a creativity coach, Cameron led
another life as a screenwriter and an essayist for such
publications as Mademoiselle, Vogue, and
Cosmopolitan. So she knows the nature of the media beast,
even if she recommends avoiding it. A creative whirlwind, Cameron
is publishing several new books this year, including The
Artist’s Way at Work
(Tarcher/Putnam) and a crime novel,
The Dark Room(Carroll and Graf). She spoke with
assistant editor Andy Steiner during a brief break in writing
projects.

Could you describe your media diet?
I’m a media bulimic. Most of the time I avoid reading newspapers
and magazines, but every six weeks or so I take $25 to a newsstand,
and I buy everything from highbrow to lowbrow, from tabloids like
The National Enquirer and the New York Post to
serious newspapers like The New York Times, The
Washington Post
, the Los Angeles Times, and the Times
of London
. I also buy magazines like Vanity Fair, Harper’s,
The Atlantic Monthly, Time
, and Newsweek. Then I just
binge-read for two days. It might seem eccentric, but this system
keeps me abreast of the issues without feeling inundated with
extraneous information. The really important information shakes
through to the top. The less important information just falls away,
allowing me to focus on what’s essential.

But you can’t rely on the information you read in the
tabloids.

Just the opposite. The tabloid newspapers are being read by a huge
portion of the American population. I’m interested in what regular
Americans are reading and buying. I’m a mainstream writer, and I
write mainstream movies. I need to know what regular people are
thinking about, so the information I read in tabloids is really
quite key. Besides, I’m wary of being informed simply by media I
agree with. It’s just too one-sided.

What magazines do you subscribe to?
Only one: Morgan Horse. As you can tell by the name, it’s a
magazine about Morgan horses, which I own and ride. It’s
heaven.

Which artists do you most admire?
My favorite artist, the one who has had the most impact on me as a
person and as an artist, is Tim Wheater, one of the founding
members of the Eurythmics. I’ve found that listening to his music
makes me want to create in response. Somehow he raises questions
that I want to find answers for. Since we’ve met, we’ve recorded a
poetry album together, This Earth: A Planetary Mass. What
are your favorite films?

I usually prefer old movies, but I thought [Martin Scorsese’s]
Kundun was a film of exquisite transparency. The artistry
was of such a high level that people didn’t even know it was there.
The British filmmaker Michael Powell is my all-time favorite. I
especially like his film I Know Where I’m Going, about fate,
destiny, and the supernatural. Almost all my favorite films are
about those topics.

Which books and authors do you consider essential?
I love Pablo Neruda. I like a tiny little book published in 1964
by Ernest Holmes called Creative Ideas.

Do you watch television?
I used to write for Miami Vice, so it’s not like I consider
myself above television. It’s just that I don’t have much time to
spend watching it. I prefer to spend my time writing. When I do
watch TV, I tend to watch shows about music, like David Saltz’s
series on the Beatles. I also like shows on animals.

What is your most creative space?
I don’t need a specific place to write. I can write anywhere. I
write longhand, and all I need to do is carry paper and something
to write with. One of the tools I try to teach people in my classes
is flexible creativity. It works for me. I recently moved from
rural New Mexico to urban New York City. It’s a different energy,
but I’m still able to do my work.

If you could make one law, what would it be?
I’m not interested in making laws. I’d rather make a wish. My wish
would be that we would all be true to ourselves, that we would
realize that each of us is important. If we could all act with that
in mind, we would have a wonderful world and incredible artÛand
we’d all be a great deal more jolly.

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