Doing It Every Day

The more you write, the better you get. It’s a common koan, found in just about every book on writing out on the bookshelves these days. Not sure if it’s true because I still think I write a lot more junk than I do "the good stuff." But I try and meet the page or screen at least once a day and hope that whatever comes out comes close to matching the image or thought inside my mind. Last week, after I got off my butt and resolved to take charge of my writing and artistic life, I decided it was also time it take up a new habit or two.

So I wandered over to my artistic bookshelf and revisited an old friend. The book's paper smelled musty, worn with age from having sat on the shelves for awhile now. The front cover said it all, The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. My best friend gave me this copy a few years ago, during a particularly stressful bout of writer’s block. While I don’t feel blocked now, I figured it was time to revisit the discipline and practices therein. More specifically, I’ve decided to start up the morning pages habit.

In this book, Cameron describes a wonderful practice where writing becomes meditation. She refers to this practice as "morning pages". The practice is deceptively simple: write 3 pages of long-hand every day, in the morning. Whatever is in your head, or not, goes onto these three pages. It sounds easy to do, but many people (myself included), make up many excuses not to write. No more excuses for me. Every morning, before my workouts, before the housework, before the reading and the naps, I crawl downstairs, grab my journal and pen and snuggle into my comfy chair. And I stay there until my handwriting covers three pages in the book. Everything and anything inside my head goes onto the page. No matter how good or bad it is. I write. And when I am done, I do not look back or reread it.

Writing like this, without looking back, is my meditation. I write like this every day to free my creativity and center myself. It gives me permission to write lots and lots of awkward phrases, horrible thoughts and criticism in private. It teaches my inner artist to dance and play while my inner critic isn't telling it to stop being so silly. It gets me ready for whatever the universe and life can throw at me. It’s good practice for NaNoWriMo, which starts one week from now. And finally, it gets me writing daily. Because this is what writers do: they write.

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Artist's Way

I've looked at this book on the shelves in the bookshops many times, thought about buying it, and put it back again. One day, I know, I will buy it, because its basic tenets strike a chord with me. One of those being the idea of the morning pages. A fine idea, but one which I don't currently do. I've thought about it many times, but never got round to doing it. My moleskine journal is certainly not the equivalent (in many ways, it's the exact opposite!). Perhaps I'm just ready to commit to them. Perhaps I'm just not brave enough. One day, one day ...

Neal |

This sounds like a good and

This sounds like a good and intriguing idea. I kept a journal for a long time and in part, blogging started to fill some of the need I felt to write. A big difference, however, has been that I'm much more careful, editorially speaking, on the blog. For the most part, I treat it a bit more craft-like than I did the journal. What I found after years of keeping the journal was that my writing did become a lot more comfortable and fluid. I've been looking for a meaningful way to practice some form of meditation as life has become more hectic and this looks like a very interesting possibility. It may have to wait until November is over, though. :)

Morning person by habit, not by nature.

Morning Pages

Excellent book! This is one of the best books on my shelf. It has propelled me past depression and over my fear.

I liked you blog and will come back. Also, I have recently decided to dedicate some of my mornings back to just writing. The result is a new blog that I am trying to get going. Take a look and if you like maybe you can help me build my blog with a cross link.

Thank you.

I have the book...

It is indeed a good book & there are other options for applying the exercises to your situation. For example, there is The Artist's Way @ Work, The Gold Vein, and Walking in This World, all of which are by the same author and do not focus primarily on being artistic. My only issue with the concept of the series that it requires a complete change in lifestyle which can only be successful if you whole-heartedly embrace the philosophy (a philosophy that bears resembalence to a certain US establishment, typically connected to Christian belief, known as AA). I compare it to starting a "diet". It will only succeed if you dedicate yourself to making (in some cases) drastic change in your current lifestyle. This typically leads to failure.

Now, I know many might take offense, but I have yet to meet someone who's read the book that truly continues with the morning pages for any length of time or completes the exercises. In fact when I bring it up most people admit to reading the book but never do the morning pages or exercises.

And, perhaps this is not what is important about the book, but I believe that to be a personal decision. Read the book & come up with your own answers...

I especially enjoyed 'The

I especially enjoyed 'The Art Spirit' by Robert Henri.