Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Artist's Way

This morning was a perfect morning to do my
"morning pages".  It was actually a little cooler outside, in the 60s.

A fan of Julia Cameron's, the Artist's Way, I first
read about it in the Plano Profile magazine
when we lived in Texas. 

My copy has more highlights than
any other book I own.

Working on this blog has made me realize
I need to get back to this book and reread it.

 Recently I was reading in a Reader's Digest, (yes, its still around, Clint's mom gave me this copy) about freeing  your mind and eliminating your "inner detractor."  A doctor who studies creativity in children at Northwestern University tells of a tried-and-true-way. Julia Cameron, a television writer, director and novelist has been teaching creativity for 25 years.  Julia's way is to write three pages---in long hand---first thing every morning about what ever comes to mind, no second-guessing, no editing.  It's a mental Dustbuster," Julia tells U.S. News & World Report, "sucking up the negativity that might inhibit creativity later."

I admit I have fallen off the wagon of writing my morning pages.  There were some amazing things that happened when I was regularly doing my morning pages. First of all, no one else is to read your morning pages. If I thought someone else might read mine, I would start self-censoring myself.  This is stream of consciousness writing with no regard about correct grammar or spelling.  Sometimes I would keep the pages for a short time and reread them later. If I wrote about something that was bothering me, a few weeks later I would have forgotten all about it.  One day I wrote about an old neighbor of ours in Tennessee. I had no idea why I wrote about this person.  Later that day, after having written about this neighbor, my mother told me that I would not believe who had called her and how this neighbor had called her to ask her to pray for an ill family member.  I do need to get back to my morning pages.

Another pivotal tool that Julia writes about is the "artist date".  What is an artist date?  An artist date is is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. You go alone on your artist date.  Don't have time?  Julia says "You cannot afford not to find the time for artist dates.  Some of my artist dates have included reading magazines at the library, sitting outside in front of Whole Foods ... people watching, walking through Barnes and Noble, visiting a thrift store, going to a high quality arts/craft mall and attending an old country church service by myself.

One of the most revealing and fun exercises that I did from Julia's book was list five occupations/dreams/aspirations that have been on my mind for years.  I listed my five and had Clint list his five, I'd saved these lists from several years ago.  We were amazed when we compared our lists:

When I was young I dreamed of being a nun.  (I'm not Catholic)
I thought it would be an easy life, living in a beautiful stone
"castle" and contemplating God all the time.

Being a soap opry actress, I thought,
would be steady work.

I can't sing, we seem to
want what we can't have.

Clint and I were astonished at how similar
our list were to each other.  About the only
differences were the actress and baseball dreams.

My dear blogger friends, I would love to know what would be on your list?


Clint said...

I think I'm gonna try writing my thoughts first thing in the mornings. Just let my mind push my pen without prior thought. I HAS to be freeing!

Artists' dates are also something I need to start doing.

Yes---most interesting about our similarities in the "what we would like to be" department!

Shady Del Knight said...

I wannabe:

1. Queen for a day
2. Radio City Music Hall Rockette
3. Bearded lady in a carnival
4. Napoleon
5. The Real Slim Shady

This is a great post, Cindy, and I'm happy to see you back at it. If you're like me you lost your muse recently and adopted a "what's the use" attitude pretty much about everything. In your case it's easy to understand how you got derailed. You recently endured a long string of unfortunate events. As for me I don't really have an excuse for neglecting my creative writing and plodding through my day looking like one of George Romero's zombies. For weeks I lost the ambition to write even a single sentence. I was like a baseball player who could not bring himself to step up to the plate because he didn't believe that he could hit a home run. First of all that's a self limiting belief. In the second place there's nothing wrong with hitting a single, bunting your way to first or even drawing a base on balls. It's all progress. It's all good. Thirdly, if you strike out it's not the end of the world. There's always the next time and true blue fans will still love you regardless.

A few days ago I broke through my writer's block and forced myself to get started again. When you give yourself that extra nudge to get started your depression lifts, creativity kicks in and you experience joy and satisfaction. Make time to break your old patterns and take yourself out on a artist date. As Julia says "You cannot afford not to find the time." I care about you, Cindy, and just having you show up here or over on mine brings me great happiness, no matter how much or little you write or which topic you choose.

Sara G said...

My list:
Music Teacher
Math Teacher
Small business Accountant
Bible Study Facilitator

The first 3 have been with me for a very long, long time. My love for music and math. The more I got into business the more I wanted to help others, even now. I got to help a few small businesses in 2008/2009 and what a wonderful feeling to be able to help them out. I had started to work on getting back in school and then life took a turn very unexpectedly. So now I'm not really sure what will happen. I'm finding now that there are more/different ways to help. I started writing my thoughts down in the morning six months ago but it's been a few weeks. Sometimes it is good to take a break and re-read those thoughts. Never know when a spark will happen.

Nova said...

That's easy, everything about nature and animals like:

Marine biologist
Zoo owner (like the loro parque)
Researchers around the world

Anonymous said...

#1-homemaker/foster parent
trial lawyer
anything with National Parks & Recreation

Thanks for planting the idea of artist dates!
I plan to begin doing that TODAY!
Angela Marie ;)

Cindy Ellison said...

Wow, such great responses ... thank you everyone!

Clint, maybe you need to get back to your diary, that could be your "morning pages" for you. Your blog has been so important to you and you are really enjoying it. I just knew you would love it and glad I encouraged you to do it!

Shady, a bearded lady? I once paid good money at a carnival to see a bearded lady. I will never forget the words that were used to describe her: She lives a normal life, she lives in Florida and drives a Cadillac. Heck, now one could go to any Walmart and see one free! I'm sorry to hear you were depressed and could not write one sentence. You seem so upbeat on your blog, it would not cross my mind that you would have times such as you described. "That extra nudge" is so important ... writing that first word, taking that first step, applying that first brush stroke ... It's good to know you are back on track! Thank you, Shady, for your nice comments and thoughts.

Sara G, thank you so much for your list and comments. The Disciples classes that are held at many churches came to mind when I saw you had listed "Bible Study Facilitator". I have not been able to devote the time required for one but I have heard only good things about them. You would be perfect as a facilitator for these classes. I admire you for your math abilities! Math scares me. Hope things are going well with you and your family, thanks again Sara!

Petra, how special you would dream of being a marine biologist or zoo owner. I love animals, too. My daughter gave me the best compliment several years ago. She said I was the only person to visit the zoo with her that she enjoyed. The reason is I would stand with her for as long as she wanted to observe the animals. I do this now from inside our house, I am now finding mourning doves fascinating! Petra, I am wondering if you have ever been to the US? I appreciate your visits and comments to my blog, Petra!

Angela, you had a great list, too! I really think you would enjoy the Artist's Way book since you are a fantastic artist! You could appreciate so much in this book. Maybe you will blog about your artist date today? :~) I have a big "artist date" planned this afternoon. Clint is actually going on this "artist date" with me. They may be a blog about it later. Enjoy your day, Angela, and I am happy you had such a wonderful visit with your son! ♥

Life 101 said...

My wife Jilda and I both have read and worked the exercises in the Artist's Way. But that was a few years ago. Seeing it here has reminded to fetch it off the shelf and reread it.
Thanks for this post.

LaWendula said...

Thanks for sharing this, Cindy and thanks for visiting my blog. Oh Gosh, I really must buy the book in English now to know what is what. The translation is all crap, btw.
I have started with the book on 1998, but it was not doing much for me.
Now rereading it, I think a lot different about it. I see so many "building lots" when it comes to make money with my art and I hope this book will help me.

My list of 5:

Dancer (with Pina Bausch, if she was still alive or like Gabrielle Roth)
I don't know what it's called, the one who makes the voice-over in films
Location scout

Cindy Ellison said...

Thank you for stopping by, LuWendula. You had the most interesting list of what I call dream jobs/aspirations. I just bet you are a good singer and dancer already. Travel would be associated with being a location scout, another unique dream. With the passage of time since 1998, this book may "speak" to you differently now. I know that happens to me. Thank you for visiting both my posts, LuWendula. Have a relaxing weekend. ♥