Years ago, when I was going through a dry spell as a songwriter, I stumbled upon a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way. It is a 12-step program for recovering artists. This book gave me some very practical tools for opening my (sometimes blocked) creative channels. For a long time, it was my “bible”, and the exercises in the book were very helpful. I believe it is still in print and is readily available on-line, in bookstores, or in libraries.
Over the years I became distracted by life’s twists and turns, and I stopped doing the one thing that was the cornerstone of my personal recovery process: Writing morning pages. And when I stopped writing morning pages, I experienced a gradual decline in my creative output. Recently, I have re-instituted my morning pages practice, and I am beginning to see subtle changes – for the better.
If you are interested in trying out morning pages, I will give you the Cliff Notes version of how to do it. I think it’s worth the minimal investment of time. (And it only costs the price of a spiral notebook that you can get at the Dollar Store!)
The idea is to write three pages every morning – with pen or pencil – not on the computer. Ideally, write while you’re still a little groggy, so that you’re in the half-awake/half-dream state. That way, chances are, your inner critic (you know, the mean little voice that takes every opportunity to put your work down) is still asleep, and you can write freely without all those pesky interruptions.
You can write about anything at all! If nothing is coming to you, write about that! Then see where it leads you. You might find yourself writing about how you feel – physically, or emotionally. You might write about something in the news that caught your attention. You might write about a memory. You might recount a dream. There are no limits. If you’re angry about something, write about that. Don’t worry about grammar. Don’t even worry about content. Just fill up three notebook pages in long hand. Then forget about it. Close the notebook and put it away until the next morning. (Julia Cameron says that for the first few weeks, you shouldn’t even read over your work.)
And, by the way, if your mean inner critic pops up while you’re writing, write about that! Several times I’ve filled up three pages by writing a dialog between me and my inner critic. That was very interesting and cathartic.
There are many other very helpful practices in The Artist’s Way, such as the “Artist’s Date”, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book to find a copy and explore. And you don’t have to be in the arts or be “A Creative” – We are all creative, given half a chance.
But if nothing else, I hope you will consider trying your hand at Morning Pages.
Thank you, Julia Cameron. Namaste.
© Robin Munson