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The Write Stuff

As a teenage girl, I remember wanting to keep a diary. I would get one of those “Five Year” diaries as a gift and think, I am going to do this – I am going to write every day – for five years! Well, That usually didn’t last a week, and then I lost said diary.

Flash forward to being 40ish and becoming an artist. I meet a stranger who introduces me to Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and BAM! I started writing every day for years and years. I had actually loved to journal, but not with any consistency.

Julia Cameron calls the daily act of journaling, “Morning Pages.” Her “tool” of choice for the artist is writing, by hand, three pages of stream of consciousness style writing. It is to be done as close to the first of your waking moments as possible. It is not for publication. It is not to be edited. It is a tool to “brain dump” whatever is on your mind.

When I first read The Artist’s Way and followed the instructions to the letter, I thought this would take a long time. Recently, I set my timer for 20 minutes to see if that was an accurate estimate of the time it takes and it was very close. Sometimes you may need a writing prompt to get you going and her book is full of those. Sometimes my writing may consist of my current “to do” list, or maybe even my grocery list. Somedays it contains reminders of things I don’t want to forget. But always it is a good exercise for “checking in” with your head and heart to see what’s up in there!

One of the benefits of writing by hand is it is easier to not edit yourself. When on a computer we are backspacing, and spell-checking, and figuring out punctuation – and that is not the point of this kind of writing. The point is to clear the cobwebs to get to the “good stuff.”

One of the things you will find as you begin to write with any consistency is you might start out with a lot of resistance. You may begin your daily pages by complaining about such a ridiculous exercise, you may whine that this is not for you – But as time goes on, and as your hand makes it’s way down the page you begin to go deeper. Every day may not be a new revelation, but you won’t know until you try.

These daily pages are not something you should feel like you have to keep – but they are pages that should be honest and therefore may be beneficial for taking a look back on from time to time. Writing like this can chart your growth and be a source of encouragement as you grow as an artist and just as a human being.

Often my morning pages contain prayers for my day, or for situations. They may contain my goals for the day, week, or year. Writing down goals has long been known to be of great value in helping us to achieve those goals. So, I write down a lot of ideas that I would like to see come to fruition. And many have.

I remember as a very optimistic teenager making a list of things I would like to do in my lifetime. One of those things was to run a marathon. I hadn’t thought about that youthful goal in a while – but this weekend I ran my second Half Marathon in preparation for running my first Full Marathon this coming April.

The creative benefits of journaling in this way can only be experienced by doing them. Start out with a page a day if three seems overwhelming. The goal is to be consistent and to pay attention.

Tomorrow I will share some writing I did a few years ago. I think it is a good prompt for beginning your pages. Ask yourself – What would I say to “Younger me?” And begin to write. You will find that you have a lot to say – Probably a lot more than three pages!

Finding Joy in the Journey

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