Yesterday, I discussed the time commitment that working with The Artist’s Way will require. You could scrimp, of course, but you will only shortchange yourself. I can promise you that if you want to see deep, permanent shifts in the way you live, in the understanding of yourself as a creative person, and your ability to actually fulfill your dreams and longings, putting in the time to work these exercises is crucial.
In addition, there are two other critically important tools for this transformation process. You may have heard of them: the morning pages and the artist date.
The morning pages are, simply, three pages of hand-written, stream of consciousness notes, faithfully recorded every single day during this process. No exceptions. And no, sorry, not on your computer.
There really is something magical and powerful about mind to hand to page that is different from keying to a machine and a screen. And, sooner or later, you’ll be glad that your morning pages are non-electronic and completely portable.
Otherwise, Julia reassures us, you cannot do them wrong. For instance, they need not be done in the mornings. However, that is usually the best time, because one of the functions of the morning pages is what Julia calls the brain drain. Morning pages are not really a narrative of your life. They are more like a core dump of everything that is rattling around in your head. When you do them in the mornings, you can really feel you are getting a fresh start every day.
Morning pages may occasionally turn brilliant, but as Julia notes, they are “not meant to be art. Or even writing.
“I want to stress that point to reassure nonwriters working with this book. Writing is simply one of the tools. Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid or too weird to be included.”
Mostly, they will be blathering on and on about whatever pops up. After three pages of downloading, you will have made room for good things to come in – inspiration, possibly; a bit more calm, almost certainly; but most of all, a kind of gentle receptivity and clarity that coaxes our creativity to come closer.
Because morning pages are really, really not meant to be written records of the stories of our lives, I would suggest that you NOT go out this weekend and buy a super nice journal to use. You are not going to want to fill up, say, a beautiful, leather-bound journal of creamy, expensive paper with what morning pages mostly are: whining, complaining, obsessing, and trivial, boring, crazy stuff. Instead, a cheapy-deepy wirebound notebook will do just fine.
Bear in mind that it will be three pages every day, so if you’d rather get something a little smaller than 8 1/2 by 11”, that’s okay, but no fair getting a teensy faery sized notebook, either! Something along the lines of 9×7 works great.
We’ll discuss the morning pages a lot more in the days ahead, believe me. But I want to point out that if you find you are really resistant to this idea, just notice that, acknowledge it, maybe ask yourself what that’s about. And, please agree to do it anyway.
The other basic tool of the The Artist’s Way is the artist date, which is a weekly play date for your artist self. This one sounds a lot more fun and easier to do than morning pages, but in my experience, it’s actually much harder, and I admit I failed more often than not.
Maybe that has contributed to why I am needing this refresher now. At any rate, I am vowing to do much better this time.
So stay tuned, and I’ll discuss the artist date in more detail next week.