Many of you, especially the aspiring writers, are probably familiar with Julia Cameron’s wonderful book, “The Artist’s Way”. If you’re not, and you are engaged in ANY kind of creative endeavor–and when you think about it, EVERY life well lived calls for creativity–you should pick up a copy.
One of Cameron’s time-honored methods for stimulating the flow of words (or paintings, or any other worthwhile thing) is an exercise she calls Morning Pages. You simply hand-write three pages of stuff–stream of consciousness, no judging, whatever is on your mind. (Some people do their pages on a computer. It’s generally agreed that this is less effective than putting pen to paper, but, hey, whatever works.) It is, like all journaling, a great way to get things out of your head and onto paper, where you can see them and get some perspective. Believe me, I speak from experience here–solutions present themselves, nebulous thoughts solidify, and mysteries are solved.
I wrote Morning Pages for YEARS–and then, for some reason I can’t immediately call to mind, I stopped. Bad idea! Recently, after picking up another of Cameron’s books, “Walking in This World” on CD, to listen to in the truck while I was running errands, I was re-inspired. I bought a regular, 8 1/2 by 11 spiral notebook and started writing my Pages again. Now, I wouldn’t give up this exercise for anything–it helps me so much.
Writers, you see, tend to spend a lot of time in their heads. It’s a great place to be–most of the time–I mean, my particular head is full of Creeds and McKettricks and Yarbros and O’Ballivans–and historical figures, too, like Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and George Washington. It would be hard to find better company. Still, there are a lot of interesting people and things on the OUTSIDE, too. And I don’t want to miss them. Morning Pages helped me see that I need to touch down in my body a lot more often–and so did feeding horses for two weeks while the Canadian Wrangler was away.
As you might guess from the above title, Cameron also recommends walking to stimulate creativity. That struck me as a good idea–so I started adding WALK to my to-do list. This morning, setting out for a few laps around the pasture, I saw that the horses were all gathered at the fence, wanting their breakfast. The Canadian Wrangler is back, and I figured he’d be along soon, so I took a lap. When I came back around, still no CW. So I decided to fill the feed pans and put out the hay–God knows, the Wrangler has enough to do around here anyhow. I fed some horses. I was in my body, not my head, a cowgirl in blue jeans and dirty shoes, doing what a cowgirl does. And it felt so good.
Walking, it turns out, does stimulate ideas. I can hardly wait to get back to Stone Creek and join up with Gideon and Lydia and the rest of the crew. (Given what they were doing when I last saw them, leaving the room was the only polite response. :))
At the end of the day, I plan on taking another couple of turns around the pasture. And if the CW is busy elsewhere, I might just feed the horses again. Because I can. Because I’m blessed to HAVE horses, and legs that will carry me, and arms strong enough to fill a wheelbarrow with hay and spread it around on my own little patch of ground.
I’m discovering some things about myself–I need to be outside more. Outside of my head AND outside of my house. I need to walk and be around horses and pine trees and all the rest of it. I need to spend more time under a blue sky–or a rainy one–or a snowy one.
Would I have come to this conclusion without Morning Pages? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.
I’m not taking the chance.
Tomorrow morning, early, after taking the dogs out and then bringing them in again, and then letting them out again—well, you get the picture–I’ll be sitting down, opening my notebook, and writing my pages. It’s exciting to think what I might come up with next! Sometimes, it’s just ordinary stuff–what I need to pick up at Walmart, some petty annoyance, things like that–and that’s okay, too. Remember, when it comes to Morning Pages, there is only one rule: write three full pages, in longhand if possible. They’re for your eyes only, so say whatever you want to. Unlike fancy bound journals, it’s easy to tear them up and toss them out if that’s what you want to do. If I remember correctly, Cameron does not recommend going back and rereading them, and I rarely did that before. Don’t do it now, either. Things that come to mind and need remembering go on my to-do list, or into another journal. This happens a lot, too–I get snatches of dialogue, plot twists, and lots of things I want to do artistically. (Heck, I have an ART journal, too. It’s a sketchbook, and I am forever scribbling, sketching, and gluing in images that strike my fancy for some reason.)
Maybe you’d like to try some Morning Pages yourself. You don’t have to become a journaling-junkie, like me. Give it a week. I think you’ll be surprised by the insights you’ll have. Things that have always seemed impossible begin to see possible after all. If you’re stuck, this is your best shot at getting UNstuck.
And now–off to Stone Creek.
Make it a good day. I’ll be right here tomorrow, and I hope you will be, too.
See you then.