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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In Love Again



Those of you who have been with me for a while may recall I spent twelve weeks a few years ago  completing the lessons from THE ARTIST'S WAY, a Spiritual Path to Creativity, by Julia Cameron.  Whether you buy into the word spiritual or not, the book is chock full of suggestions and methods through which to open yourself up to the inspiration locked inside.  Without Julia, I’m not sure I would be anywhere near to putting the final touches on my second novel. 

While working through the readings and assignments, participants are requested to complete what the author calls Morning Pages—three long-hand pages written as soon as you wake each day.  There is no requirement on subject matter, punctuation or editing.  It’s likely you may never read them again (although she does require it partway through the twelve lessons and I found some jarring insight). Essentially, Morning Pages are a brain dump to help clear out the excess garbage, allowing you to start the day fresh and clean.

This autumn, I felt things slowing down for me.  Perhaps you’ve noticed my lack of presence here on Middle Passages.  I’ve been writing, but I’m getting close to finishing my second book and struggling with the story at the beginning of a third.  I tussled with a query letter, giving too much credence to that nasty little voice asking, “What’s the use?” and I became a little afraid all my industry was going to grind to a halt.   In truth, it was time to dare myself to move forward.  In that vein, I purchased another Julia Campbell tutorial:  WALKING IN THIS WORLD, the Practical art of Creativity though I confess. I have yet to make it through the first chapter.  But Morning Pages are a part of this program too, and I’m a week into them.
 
Last time, I cheated.  My daughter was still in high school and I was already rising at 5:30.  Rather than forcing myself up earlier, I got up, showered, made her lunch, ate my own breakfast and then sat down with my pen.  This time, I’m following the guidelines.  As soon as I wake up, I turn on the light, stick one of my husband’s extra pillows on my lap as a desk (he leaves for work very early) and reach for my notebook. 
 
Each time I’ve completed my pages, I’ve felt a sense of peace upon getting up from the bed, as if I've already realized my primary goal of the day.  Even if the “real” writing I’m supposed to do goes poorly, or not at all, or if I struggle during the hours I spend at my paying work, I look back over the river of time and know in those predawn hours, words streamed out.  A purple notebook filling with blue flowing script bears witness. I’ve completed twenty-one pages so far. 
It is as though, while completing this morning ritual I pare down to my elemental self.  There's no story being told, no ark, no layering, no characters to flesh out, no conflict, no resolution, no audience.  It's just me, a lined notebook, a ballpoint pen and a growing reminder of the joy that abounds whenever words pour onto the page.

11 comments:

mshatch said...

writing is good, isn't it? I haven't done any journaling in a while and you make me wonder whether it might not be a good thing to take up again. And I like the idea of doing it first thing, getting rid of everything you don't need once you sit down to write.

Anne Gallagher said...

I remember those days. I used to write like that years ago. Unfortunately, now I can only do it in the summer when I know I don't have to write to make a living. surprising results that's for sure.

Carol Kilgore said...

I've never been a journaler of anything, so I doubt I would succeed at morning pages. I do, however, stumble downstairs before the crack of dawn and write fiction. The words pour out of their own accord during this early morning, half asleep session.

Johanna Garth said...

I bet what you write feels so honest. You've inspired me, although with two little ones at home I don't think I'll be able to follow your example any time soon.

Lexie C. said...

I'm in the process of working through "The Artist's Way" right now- a little hard to do on my own but I'm enjoying it. I do morning pages but not as faithfully as I should (mostly they're afternoon pages when I have a minute to sit down).
It is a freeing feeling to just write with no agenda and knowing that there is no audience and no judgement. Very cool that you have that reminder of the joy of writing! I hope this is a wonderful and productive year for you! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If I wrote as soon as I got up, I'm not sure anything would dump out. But if it's working for you, keep doing it, Liza!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Wow, I don't think I could do that. I hate even talking in the morning let alone thinking and writing, but whatever works to get the brain going.

Rebecca Taylor said...

Thank you for coming by my blog today for Suzanne's interview...I love finding new writer/bloggers to follow.

Kittie Howard said...

You're inspiring, Liza. You get so much done. And with such purpose.

Robin said...

I am so darn useless in the mornings with this dratted migraine, but I love the idea of this<3 I haven't done journal writing in forever. Just hearing you write about how cathartic it all is, makes me want to give it a try. It doesn't say you have to get up at the crack of dawn... it just says as soon as you get up. Well, I could do that! I will have to give this idea some thought. Between this and the meditation, I might actually calm my poor overwhelmed brain.

J.B. Chicoine said...

Wait, what!? You are working on a second novel? Oh, my--am I out of touch!

Ever since you started that exercise of writing every morning, I've thought about doing that myself. I'm just not sure I could do that pre-coffee...(is that just an excuse?). But seriously, I have the feeling that might be something very beneficial for me at this time of my life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it--maybe I'll have to finally get a copy of that book...hmmm...