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. Meanwhile 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.
I needed a new method to kickstart my writing and I found one after reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The 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!
My 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.
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.
BASIC PRINCIPLES1. 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.
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.
The universe will reward you for taking risks on its behalf.SHAKTI GAWAIN
A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.ALBERT SZENT- GYORGYI
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.
The universe is prodigal in its support. We are miserly in what we accept.
Remember the maxim “Leap, and the net will appear.”
When people do not want to see something, they get mad at the one who shows them.
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.
There is the risk you cannot afford to take, [and] there is the risk you cannot afford not to take.PETER DRUCKER
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm. COLETTE
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.
Read more at location 2196
True life is lived when tiny changes occur.LEO TOLSTOY
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.
Once we are willing to accept that anything worth doing might even be worth doing badly our options widen.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.ALBERT EINSTEIN
To be blunt, most academics know how to take something apart, but not how to assemble it.
Do not call the inability to start laziness. Call it fear.
Play can make a workaholic very nervous. Fun is scary.
He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.LAO-TZU
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.
You are lost the instant you know what the result will be.
Read more at location 3490
Do not fear mistakes—there are none.
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.