Catching the Dragon: Getting My Writing Mojo Back

My writing over the last two months has been a struggle. I lost my mojo sometime in May and have been trying in vain to get it back. It’s like Chasing the Dragon, minus the heroin thing. chasing dragonMeanwhile the book I want to write is sitting on a shelf collecting dust and my blog posts have been uninspired (when I bother to publish anything , which is no longer the guarantee that it once was).

My blog evolved on the forced habit of writing for at least 15 minutes a day, everyday, without fail. That is until I fell off the wagon when I started getting real interviews. I rationalized that the interviewing curveball was a temporary situation and I would pick my writing habit back up once things cooled down. I would just get right back to it, 15 minutes at a time.

The reality is that restarting my writing habit hasn’t been as easy as I had expected. I found myself staring at a blank word document for most of the 15 minutes wondering what I should write about. And God forbid if I got a half-baked idea. Then I would spend the 15 minutes editing a single sentence, which was even more frustrating. My old playbook wasn’t working and hence the missed blog posts and the gimmick of revisiting old material.

Albert Einstein“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” – Albert Einstein (supposedly)

I needed a new method to kickstart my writing and I found one after reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. artists wayThe cornerstone of Cameron’s creative process is the Morning Pages. She describes that as:

Morning Pages are 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.

At first this sounded too good to be true, but I was desperate. Besides, it was free to try. I would only be paying in time. And the verdict…it’s working!

Jurassic DumpMy morning pages are mostly incoherent gibberish. It’s the writing equivalent to speaking in tongues. I would never share my pages with anyone (unless you want to read my musings on how rewarding it feels to take a Jurassic dump in the morning), but sharing is not the point. Creating positive inertia is.

It’s slow going, but writing is muscle that needs to be trained. There are cumulative effects to training. You may not see results today, tomorrow, or next week, but if you diligently stick with it you will see results in a month, in a year, and beyond.

Thanks for reading. If you’re interested in learning more about The Artist’s Way I included the highlights I made in the book below.

Don


The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

You have 40 highlighted passages
Nothing dies harder than a bad idea. And few ideas are worse than the ones we have about art.
Read more at location 276
BASIC PRINCIPLES
1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life—including ourselves.
3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
5. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

Read more at location 349

The Artist’s Way is a spiral path. You will circle through some of the issues over and over, each time at a different level. There is no such thing as being done with an artistic life. Frustrations and rewards exist at all levels on the path. Our aim here is to find the trail, establish our footing, and begin the climb. The creative vistas that open will quickly excite you.

Read more at location 389

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Read more at location 409

Even if we look like functioning artists to the world, we feel we never do enough and what we do isn’t right. We are victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic, the Censor, who resides in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth.

Read more at location 477

A mind too active is no mind at all.
THEODORE ROETHKE

Read more at location 491

Your artist is a child and it needs to be fed.

Read more at location 502

Boredom is just “What’s the use?” in disguise. And “What’s the use?” is fear, and fear means you are secretly in despair.

Read more at location 617

Art may seem to involve broad strokes, grand schemes, great plans. But it is the attention to detail that stays with us; the singular image is what haunts us and becomes art. Even in the midst of pain, this singular image brings delight. The artist who tells you different is lying.

Read more at location 691

It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time.

Read more at location 838

Remember that in order to recover as an artist, you must be willing to be a bad artist. Give yourself permission to be a beginner. By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, over time, a very good one.

Read more at location 841

When I make this point in teaching, I am met by instant, defensive hostility: “But do you know how old I will be by the time I learn to really play the piano/act/paint/write a decent play?” Yes … the same age you will be if you don’t. So let’s start.

Read more at location 843

Just as a recovering alcoholic must avoid the first drink, the recovering artist must avoid taking the first think. For us, that think is really self-doubt: “I don’t think this is any good….”

Read more at location 1041

success or failure, the truth of a life really has little to do with its quality. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.
Read more at location 1261

ANGER IS FUEL.

Anger is meant to be listened to. Anger is a voice, a shout, a plea, a demand. Anger is meant to be respected. Why? Because anger is a map. Anger shows us what our boundaries are. Anger shows us where we want to go. It lets us see where we’ve been and lets us know when we haven’t liked it. Anger points the way, not just the finger. In the recovery of a blocked artist, anger is a sign of health.

Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly, anger is use-full.

Read more at location 1381
The universe will reward you for taking risks on its behalf.
SHAKTI GAWAIN
Read more at location 1399
A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.
ALBERT SZENT- GYORGYI
Read more at location 1414
I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.
Read more at location 1436
The universe is prodigal in its support. We are miserly in what we accept.
Read more at location 1462
Remember the maxim “Leap, and the net will appear.”
Read more at location 1465
When people do not want to see something, they get mad at the one who shows them.
Read more at location 1488

As artists, we must learn when criticism is appropriate and from whom. Not only the source but the timing is very important here.

Read more at location 1527

We must learn to let the flow manifest itself where it will—not where we will it.
Read more at location 1927
There is the risk you cannot afford to take, [and] there is the risk you cannot afford not to take.
PETER DRUCKER
Read more at location 2066
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm. COLETTE
Read more at location 2094

Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor.

PAUL HAWKEN

Read more at location 2196

True life is lived when tiny changes occur.
LEO TOLSTOY
Read more at location 2285
 Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop—an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole. Instead of creating freely and allowing errors to reveal themselves later as insights, we often get mired in getting the details right. We correct our originality into a uniformity that lacks passion and spontaneity.
Read more at location 2396
Once we are willing to accept that anything worth doing might even be worth doing badly our options widen.
Read more at location 2445
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
ALBERT EINSTEIN
Read more at location 2592
To be blunt, most academics know how to take something apart, but not how to assemble it.
Read more at location 2613
Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.
Read more at location 2935
Play can make a workaholic very nervous. Fun is scary.
Read more at location 3180
He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.
LAO-TZU
Read more at location 3336
I must learn that as an artist my credibility lies with me, God, and my work. In other words, if I have a poem to write, I need to write that poem—whether it will sell or not.
Read more at location 3406

You are lost the instant you know what the result will be.

JUAN GRIS

Read more at location 3490

Do not fear mistakes—there are none.

MILES DAVIS

Read more at location 3639

Map is not territory, and without reference points from within your own experience, you cannot extrapolate what the morning pages and artist dates can do for you.
Read more at location 3874
Facebooktwittertumblrmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *