For most of my life I have struggled with finding a balance between my creative life and all of my other responsibilities. Last year I hit a rut. I was working hard to balance a creative business and a still have life but I was overwhelmed. Whenever I tried to sit in my studio and create I couldn’t actually make anything.
Since I couldn’t be productive I would spend my time surfing for inspiration. I kept folders and sketchbooks filled with photos, drawings, quotes, artists to reference later. On the outside, these books made me look like I was productive, and that my art was my life. Inside however i was a wreck. I couldn’t actually do any art. Inspiration was all I had – but never enough to actually make anything.
a month of morning pages
Last year my mother, a lifelong artist, bought me a copy of Julia Cameron’s “The Artist Way” and chapter one rocked my world. Julia recommends morning pages – three hand written pages of whatever crosses your mind as a surefire way to get beyond our fears, negativity, moods and most importantly to get beyond our inner critic and back to creating.
I was at rock bottom, not producing any work. I was desperate and decided to commit to one month of morning pages. At worst, i would still be stuck and at best I would be able to work again.
Within a few days my head felt clearer. I had found a place to voice all of my worries and fears. Rather than making the fears stronger, writing them down helped me see what was stopping me so i could work around the negativity and start creating again.
my take on morning pages
Now, every morning i wake up and while i drink my coffee I write 750 words, the typed equivalent of three hand written pages, of absolute drivel. I aim to write them in under 20 minutes and without thinking or editing what i write.
I have two rules:
1. I must write at least 750 words – this pushes me past my comfort zone and ensures I have time to access some subconscious thoughts.
2. I don’t reread the morning pages. Ever. If a good idea has come up during a session, when I’m done I’ll make a note in my idea sketchbook where i have access to it with out all of the other drivel that my have come out of my head that day.
Morning pages are not about journaling. I don’t sit down and write a dear diary entry, thoughtfully examining the previous days events – mostly I write crap. I can’t count the number of days I start out complaining about the fact that I am making myself write. More days than not the entries start with “I have nothing to say today.” Yet every day I push through and talk about anything from laundry and chores to art projects and blogging. I write on good days and bad. I am my own biggest cheerleader and worst critic.
In the end though it’s worth it. When I write I have clarity. A quiet in my head that lets me focus on my day – my inner critic has had a chance to speak his piece and now I can move on and create.
For More Information:
You can download the first chapter of The Artist Way here:
If you don’t have journaling software you should check out 750words.com – a free, completely private online service made specifically for a morning pages style brain dump.
About The Author: Jessica Alvarado is one of the creative forces behind C. Johannesen Jewelry . She is a passionate maker, who loves pottery, film photography and being a mom.
You can connect with her on twitter or via facebook