So, about ten years ago, one of my good friends lent me her copy of The Artist’s Way and suggested I try it. I dove into that program like a madwoman, and it really helped get me on the path to becoming a professional creative person.
If it weren’t for The Artist’s Way, I never would have become a copywriter, and I never would’ve built up the courage to leave copywriting and actually try to achieve my real dreams of being a television writer. See, shadow careers aren’t all that bad. Sometimes you need them to help you discover what you don’t want. And I learned a LOT in the advertising world—and not just how to have three beers at lunch and still be productive in the afternoon. I learned how to write every day, how to be creative on demand (even with a hangover, or worse, a migraine). I learned to work with difficult people.
But I was talking about The Artist’s Way. This is why I shouldn’t blog at 4am, in my post-migraine euphoria. ANYWAY.
The key to The Artist’s Way is Morning Pages. If you google that phrase, you’ll see over 1.2 million results. It’s helped people change their lives, myself included. The period after I did The Artist’s Way (and mandated morning pages) was the most creative time in my life up to that point, and I know it enabled me to become the powerhouse that churned out work when I got to agency life. (Of course, silly me, I thought that being the person with the largest number of projects—often a ratio of 3:1 over the other writers, who always claimed they were “so busy”—would make me valued and respected. I was wrong).
These memories made me decide it was time to do the Morning Pages thing again this year, because this semester at grad school is all about creating original work. And I want to write the best scripts I can. So, in January, I started doing my requisite three pages every day. And within a week, I was MISERABLE. It was so weird. I’m naturally a navel-gazer, always seeking to better understand myself, as a way to understand the world around me. But getting inside my head like this again just felt like torture. Like there was nothing new to be found in this giant cranium of mine (seriously, 95th percentile. It’s hard to buy hats). And I thought it might just be resistance at first, like getting used to a new workout routine (something ELSE on my list of things to boost my creativity). But when I couldn’t shake this miserable mood for the entire day, it had to be something else. So, I did a test. I stopped writing morning pages for a day, and I felt good. Next day, I wrote them again, and felt bad.
Perhaps it’s the writing them in the morning thing. Perhaps my bladder was just too full, and I was taking the “morning pages” deal too strictly—for example, maybe I should take my journal outside and get some of that California sunshine while I write.
Or maybe, for the first time in my life, it’s OK to not be in my head so much. I’m slowly starting to pay attention to my body, and try to live more in it than just in my head. It’s weird, though. I haven’t been able to find anybody else on the internet who has had this same experience. Which maybe is why I’m writing about it now.
I wonder if maybe the morning pages might flow a little better (and I might feel a lot better, or at least not as distraught as much of January was) if I did them later in the day. Or after exercise. So many things to try. Because overall, they’ve been great in my life. But for them to be more effective, the words have to come out in a space filled with light. That sounds super woo-woo, but I think that’s what’s gonna happen. Maybe I’ll start over with the Artist’s Way program, and document my progress here. Of course, not the drivel of the morning pages. But this blog might make me feel accountable to something and force me to keep my artist’s dates and such.
So, here goes nothing: Bring it on, Julia Cameron.
Also, maybe I get weird ideas when I’m awake at 4:42am.