I first read Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” in my twenties. I was living in Williamsburg Brooklyn around 2000 when it was on its 3rd or 4th wave of gentrification (now it must be on its 8th or 9th). Coming out of NYU acting school and into the post college life of hustling to get an agent, eyeing the world of catering in unisex tuxes to make money, and on the rampage to find everlasting love, I still found some time to deepen my artist craft, whatever that meant.
My many journals throughout the years
I think I started the “The Artist’s Way” with my roommate and friend Jessica at the time. The details are fuzzy, but I feel like we never made it to the end. I half remember making goals and creative dates and banishing artistically destructive people. This is a butchering recollection of Cameron’s book. But the main gem of the “The Artists’s Way” that stuck with me was her concept of Morning Pages which I still do today. The idea behind it is to wake up and write, say, three pages by long hand. You can write about anything, and it doesn’t need to be witty or prose like at all, actually. The point is to develop a practice. Also, to write without your editor brain telling you “wrong, stop, don’t.”
Current Morning Pages journal
Morning Paqes aren’t about being brilliant (but hey, if they are, good for you!!) They are about freedom. When I write them, I feel free from a lot of things. On a spiritual/emotional level, I see it as a form of meditation. My nagging fears, doubts and struggles pour out on the page. The awareness of what going on helps ease that burden. As a writer, I see the Morning Pages as my creative lunges and bench presses. I would never expect myself to run a marathon without training. So how can I write a novel without getting into shape? Some writers maybe don’t have this problem and can take a long break from writing and dive in. Personally, I go through fits and starts. And the Morning Pages can help me develop a rhythm if I haven’t written in awhile. I suggest Morning Pages to those aspiring writers who also don’t know where to begin. Perhaps they have a great story but feel overwhelmed. I tell them to to start writing daily with the Morning Pages, and eventually, when they sit down to write that first scene, it might come easier. It does for me.
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Jennifer Bowen, QueenBee (more fun than CEO) of BookHive Corp.