Posted by: Liz Massey | April 3, 2008

Creativity Can’t Weight

I’ve spent most of the past week reading The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron. Although I’ve not finished it, I’ve come far enough to share my thoughts about this intriguing book on the blog.

Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and many other books on creativity, ended up writing this weight-loss tome because she noticed a strange side-effect when her students began her program of creative recovery: often, they began to lose weight and feel better physically than they had in years. Creative unblocking often precipitated a physical renaissance, as well.

The Writing Diet takes many of Cameron’s favorite tools–Morning Pages, journaling, daily walks, and the Artist’s Date–and recasts them into aids in the weight-loss process. Each brief chapter has a task assigned to it–mostly journaling prompts, but occasionally the reader is asked to take a diet or exercise related action.

There’s a lot to like in this book. I picked it up based entirely on my interest in its premise–that unblocking one’s creativity impacted diet and health–and vice versa, and Cameron’s tools can be utilized quite easily to support weight loss and creative discovery. The chapters are short, and the tasks doable.

On the other hand, as someone who has successfully lost 55 pounds over the last year and a half, I did encounter areas in the book where I disagreed with Cameron’s approach or attitude. Her 12-step-influenced approaches to trigger foods, slipping off the weight-loss path and her advocacy of substituting treats containing artificial sweeteners for sugary delights didn’t square with my experiences or research on long-term weight-loss success, but there are many paths to weight-loss success, so I certainly grant that she & I may both have valid strategies for creating greater health.

I would have like to have seen more journal prompts that integrated the creativity-health connection. Cameron has rightly recognized that creativity, emotional health and physical well-being are linked; I am tantalized by what additional prompts could have been added that might have encouraged personal creative storytelling or art-making about the individual artist’s relationship between his/her body and the creative impulse.

How do you feel about your weight, your health, and the state of your creative output? Have you ever found a relationship between greater creative flow and weight loss, or vice versa?


  1. As a creative type of person (photographer) I do feel better being out and about. Do I feel more “creative”mentally: NO. But I feel better. I look much better. And I have more staying power out in the field. I don’t feel so conscious about my weight and about attracting attention to myself when I’m out shooting. I’ll actually look for the “weird” angle in an image even if it means laying on the ground. I’m almost 100 lbs lighter so getting down and up is sooooo much easier for me now, and I’m not so self-conscious now. So, in that respect, I am more liberated, and free(er). So, I suppose that my “creativity” has improved in the end result – the sellable image.


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