If you read creative blogs of any kind, you are bound to come across Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artist’s Way’ eventually. It’s cover bills it as ‘A Course in Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self’, and yes, it does exactly what it says on the tin. I first completed the whole 12 week course in 2004, and now I am about to embark on a refresher. I’ve pulled my much loved, somewhat dog-eared copy off the shelf and on Monday 6th May 2013 I shall launch into the unknown once more.
Cameron proposes two tools for this course, Morning Pages and Artist Dates. No doubt we will talk about Artist Dates at some point soon, but today, let us think about morning pages, because they are enormously beneficial, whether you are a creative or not.
“What are morning pages? Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness…”
Julia Cameron, ‘The Artist’s Way‘ Pan Boo 1995 pp9-10
Basically, what we are talking about here is three pages of brain dump. You write them by hand because it enables your subconscious to express itself. You don’t judge them, you don’t ty to be neat, you don’t reread them. Cameron suggests doing them on loose sheets of A4/letter size paper, but I prefer to keep them in a notebook, the same kind I use for my writing notebook.
You can whine, complain, rave, drool, scream, laugh, giggle, rant, enthuse, or just repeat ‘I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write’ over and over again until something presents itself to be set down. Three pages. Inane babble or heartfelt planning. As scribbly as you like. (I realised after I had taken the photo above that this particular example of my pages is considerably neater than my usual. Believe me, most of it is a real mess!)
Whatever comes out. Three pages every day, no matter what. Three pages to ground yourself in the very core of your psyche, to drain out the poison and find the shimmering gold doubloons resting on the sea bed beneath.
I have kept morning pages on and off for 9 years. I have never reread any of them. But when I do them, I find myself making sense of the world and my feelings, finding a way to my dreams and interests, naming new ideas and enthusiasms, letting out the bile that is getting in the way of health and healing.
I profoundly believe in the healing power of these pages in draining the poison and pain from life. I have recommended it to several friends and acquaintences who were struggling with clinical depression. They have found them enormously beneficial, as do I. I now recommend them to you, not because I think you need help, but because they will help you find yourself, because they will help you become more of who you really are under all the OUGHTS and SHOULDS.
Set your alarm half an hour earlier this week. Get yourself a decent large notebook and a pen you like to write with (I do mine with a lovely old Parker fountain pen). Write your three pages every day. Do not judge yourself. Do not censor yourself. Get the dross and the sparkles alike down on paper.
If you would like to join me on the Artists Way, you are more than welcome. I shall be writing more about my progress on this blog, and I would love to hear from you in the comments if you are game.