I'm currently re-reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.
Here are a couple blog posts about my process with that:
Julia recommends a couple regular tools for the artist who wishes to stay active and unblocked. One of these tools is called Morning Pages.
While there are lots of things I could say about my experiences with these pages, what I really want to get at in this post is that I am doing them again after a long season of not writing anything consistently.
Since 8th grade I have considered myself a writer and in 2013 I published a book. Since that time I have played off and on with writing in different projects and endeavors. It has felt to me like flailing with the craft, experimenting with where to share my words, if I want to share my words, if I even need words, if I care to make time for words.
When I reopened The Artist's Way last December, with it I felt as though I stepped into a time warp, returning to a personal artistic journey I was on prior to publishing a book. All sorts of familiar feelings, visuals and insights came flooding back in. There has been a lot of saying to myself, "OH! That's right. This is where I left off."
It's feels a lot like starting a project and then deciding you don't want to do it anymore and putting all the started pieces in a drawer. Then years later, opening that drawer to look for a book of matches and serendipitously finding that old started project, shoved way to the back.
When I started writing morning pages again, it didn't come naturally. I wouldn't think much of this, except writing has always come naturally to me. I thought maybe I was just out of practice. But for the last couple months, I haven't been able to find my way with it. I was scared to write. Scared to use too many sheets in my nice notebook. Scared someone would read it. Scared it was a waste of my precious me-time. These fears never stopped me in the past, but I couldn't get past them now.
One day, while I was working on a blog post in which I was sharing some of my old art journal pages from 2012, something dawned on me.
"My art journal was my morning pages. My spiritual memoir I wrote was my morning pages. My blog was my morning pages."
I had been sharing my morning pages publicly. I was airing out my dirty laundry on a laundry line that stretched far outside my own boundaries. Come and see!
Now it made sense why the morning pages were such a fight. I was not entirely sure I could be safe with myself anymore. I still had messy feelings, but I'd determined to not put them into written words because if I did the writer in me might divulge them, and I no longer wished for her to do that. I wrote about that in this post:
This week, when I started reading Chapter 4 in The Artist's Way, it began with these words:
That's it! I thought. I've had no place to process the real feelings, save mulling them over in my mind, and all because I was sure if I wrote it on paper, the writer me would claim them for necessary public display. The writer me felt she couldn't be an honest artist if she wasn't baring all, and the writer me wanted to put all the words to good, money-making use. I get that. I was trained to make writing my career.
But the core of me has done a lot of learning over the past few years, and has put down roots that have allowed for my mystery to blossom. I've successfully lived my own way into an answer to the question, "Does everyone have to know everything about me?"
Once I figured out the issue, it was pretty easy to adjust. I went out and bought a cheap spiral notebook, something I learned from Natalie Goldberg years ago. I looked for a fun cover, but they only had solid colors. I wanted black, but at this particular store could only find blue. I decided it was more important that I started immediately then that I waited for black. (One can never pause too long when chasing a rabbit. That white fluff ball will be out of sight in no time.)
Then the idea came to me, I could write a title that would make me feel safe with myself AND could liven up the plain cover. I wrote the words "Keep Your Mystery." I wrote them quickly with a sharpie before I could overthink their placement or my penmanship.
Now I am writing, and it's just for me. I find that art IS coming forth from these morning pages, but I get to pick and choose what and when and where and how.
I want to be heard, and I'm my favorite person to hear myself. I don't think it's mere coincidence I'm discovering this during my year of Self-Reliance.