This is the first in a series of posts about The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Join the discussion, and read more with us at the Books on Writing Reading Program!
“Creativity is the natural order of life.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way, Basic Principle #1, p. 3
I had heard of Morning Pages before reading The Artist’s Way – in fact, it’s what made me finally decide to read the book. I had always wanted to do morning pages, but first thing in the morning is tricky for me. I tried getting up earlier, but it was still hit or miss. Part of the problem was I wasn’t really feeling it. I didn’t feel like I knew how to do the morning pages – was it like a journal, or could I write fiction? Could I write more than three pages? Was it three full pages, or could I end with, like, eight lines to go? Regardless, they were a struggle for me to get through. I finally bought the book and read the part about Morning Pages for guidance. Write anything. Three pages, no more, no less. Such an arbitrary number, I thought. And three pages where? Three pages in a Traveler’s Notebook is different from three pages in a college ruled spiral notebook is different from three pages on a legal pad. I wanted rules.
On top of that, morning pages became a chore, one more task on my endless to-do list. I didn’t have the time to call to make a doctor’s appointment, why would I waste time writing morning pages when I didn’t like them and didn’t seem to be getting anything out of them?
I kept trying to find others online who had similar issues with the morning pages – what did they do to push through? – but all I found, time and again, was gushing love.
What was I missing?
One day on a Facebook group, someone mentioned their love for morning pages, how it had changed their lives, and I asked. What was I missing? She asked if I had read The Artist’s Way. “Only the part pertaining to the morning pages.” She suggested I read the whole book, that morning pages work best in tandem with the book.
I’ve attempted to read many writing books. I don’t think I’ve actually completed any of them. I just seem to stall out. And I had read some reviews of The Artist’s Way that said it was pretty basic, that if you had read other books it was pretty much a repeat of those. That’s why I had originally decided not to read it.
Now I wondered if reading it would work, to help me get into the morning pages. I wanted them to change my life, help define my life, like they did for so many others, and I wanted them to help me write again. I was looking for a magic pill.
Magic or not, here I am. I’ve dedicated myself to reading and working through the book. I’ve made it part of my J-O-B.
We’re just briefly covering the introduction this week, so a few first thoughts:
- I admit, I have issues with the spirituality aspect in the book. There’s a lot of “God” there, and a lot of new age speak. Personally, I choose to substitute “the universe” any time she says “God” or “the creator.” If you’re good with God, go with it. If not, find something else to say. Make it work for you.
- I like the idea of Spiritual Chiropractic Care on p 1 – “We undertake certain spiritual exercises to achieve alignment with the creative energy of the universe.” It makes sense to me, and I like the analogy.
For the record, my weeks run Tuesday-Monday, because it’s easiest for me to have the smallest amount to do (the check-in) on Monday. Tuesdays I read the chapter, and Wednesday-Sunday I work on the tasks. Artist Date day varies.
Since this is the introduction chapter, there are no tasks. We’ll get more into that next week.
What are your thoughts so far? Have you read The Artist’s Way before, or is it new to you? I’d love to hear from you!
The Books on Writing Reading Program is my attempt to get through a stockpile of books about the writing process that I’ve stalled out on in the past. I work best under pressure, so I’m hoping others join with me in reading and discussing the books! Read more about it here.