I recently picked up a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron – I had seen it reviewed by a fellow WordPress blogger (wish I could remember who!) and decided to pick it up after a very obvious (to my brilliant subscribers) creative rut.
This week I decided to start what the author describes as a twelve week intensive course aimed at ‘recovering your creative self’. Let’s be honest, it all sounds a bit wishy-washy and hippy but isn’t the whole point of creativity to be open to new insights and ideas? So I shoved aside my doubts and self-consciousness and decided to give myself permission to be more creative (Julia talks about a negative consciousness called the censor that acts against all things spiritual and creative and I have to say my censor came out writing that last sentence!).
Clearly, I have not yet been completely bowled over by the book. The part I have been hopelessly charmed by however is the concept of Morning Pages, which she describes on her website as:
…three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
Cameron abundantly prevails on the reader the importance of these Morning Pages, whether you be a writer, painter, poet, sculptor, musician, photographer… or whether you aren’t any of these things but find yourself wanting to be. For me, coming from the stance of a writer who doesn’t seem to write enough they have been so useful, in just one week, in getting my mind and my pen going first thing in the morning.
The author regularly refers back to the benefits of Morning Pages but for me two stand out the most:
- As a 90s child, the majority of my education in the last 6 years has been dominated by computers and typing but there is so much to be said for putting pen to paper and actually writing longhand. The content here is not important, and so with that out of the realm of conscious attention you can focus on the feel and the rhythm of writing and just letting the words flow on to the page. The difference between writing on paper and writing on a screen is that you actually see the words appearing underneath your hand, whereas on a computer the words just seem to pop up on the screen as your fingers dash across a keyboard, a process that can sometimes seem utterly disconnected. The purists will love it.
- Writing first thing in the morning, and I mean literally reaching across from your bed and grabbing your notebook and pen and then seeing your hand scribble across a page with the tinted blur that comes from a good night’s sleep, is therapeutic in such a way as it enables you to get out all your anxious thoughts and expectations of the day and nightmares you may have dreamt in order to get on with your day with your focus on what matters. Since doing the Morning Pages I’ve noticed that worrying about trivial matters occurs less when I’m focused on writing because in my mind, by writing down my worries and preoccupations that morning, I have already dealt with them and can move on. There’s some psychology behind that that’s for sure.
I’m not sure how well this will work in all areas of creativity, such as painting or music. It seems to me pretty straightforward that it should benefit other writers, but other than Cameron’s own examples in the book I have yet to talk to any other type of artist who has experienced the same – but I would definitely say it’s worth a try!