The Artist’s way (introduction to morning pages)

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A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron

– A few lines from the introduction, explaining the tool of the morning pages to unblock creativity –

BASIC PRINCIPLES

    1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
    2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life—including ourselves.
    3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator’s creativity within us and our lives.
    4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
    5. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
    6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
    7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
    8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
    9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
    10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.

 

 

THE MORNING PAGES

There is no wrong way to do morning pages. These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing. 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.

The morning pages are not supposed to sound smart—although sometimes they might. Most times they won’t, and nobody will ever know except you. Nobody is allowed to read your morning pages except you. And you shouldn’t even read them yourself for the first eight weeks or so. Just write three pages, and stick them into an envelope. Or write three pages in a spiral notebook and don’t leaf back through. Just write three pages … and write three more pages the next day.

Although occasionally colorful, the morning pages are often negative, frequently fragmented, often self-pitying, repetitive, stilted or babyish, angry or bland—even silly sounding. Good!

All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity. Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye—this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.

The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery. As blocked artists, we tend to criticize ourselves mercilessly. Even if we look like functioning artists to the world, we feel we never do enough and what we do isn’t right. We are victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic, the Censor, who resides in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth. The Censor says wonderful things like: “You call that writing? What a joke. You can’t even punctuate. If you haven’t done it by now you never will. You can’t even spell. What makes you think you can be creative?” And on and on.

Make this a rule: always remember that your Censor’s negative opinions are not the truth. This takes practice. By spilling out of bed and straight onto the page every morning, you learn to evade the Censor. Because there is no wrong way to write the morning pages, the Censor’s opinion doesn’t count. Let your Censor rattle on. (And it will.) Just keep your hand moving across the page. Write down the Censor’s thoughts if you want to.

Morning pages are nonnegotiable. Never skip or skimp on morning pages. Your mood doesn’t matter. The rotten thing your Censor says doesn’t matter. We have this idea that we need to be in the mood to write. We don’t.

It may be useful for you to think of the morning pages as meditation. It may not be the practice of meditation you are accustomed to. You may, in fact, not be accustomed to meditating at all. The pages may not seem spiritual or even meditative—more like negative and materialistic, actually—but they are a valid form of meditation that gives us insight and helps us effect change in our lives.

Management consultants, in pursuit of corporate physical health, have learned to think of meditation primarily as a stress-management technique. Spiritual seekers choose to view the process as a gateway to God. Artists and creativity mavens approve of it as a conduit for higher creative insights.

All of these notions are true—as far as they go. They do not go far enough. Yes, we will alter our brain hemisphere, lower our stress, discover an inner contact with a creative source, and have many creative insights. Yes, for any one of these reasons, the pursuit is a worthy one. Even taken in combination, however, they are still intellectual constructs for what is primarily an experience of wholeness, rightness, and power.

We meditate to discover our own identity, our right place in the scheme of the universe. Through meditation, we acquire and eventually acknowledge our connection to an inner power source that has the ability to transform our outer world. In other words, meditation gives us not only the light of insight but also the power for expansive change.

 

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