A little under a year ago, on a lovely spring morning at the Addison Road Markets, I came across a second-hand copy of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. I was with Elize and Amelia, and we'd had a time of it, drinking soy lattes from our Keep Cups (so predictable) and buying veggies and laughing and catching up lots.
We'd talked about the book before, I remember Elize going through it when she was up the coast a year before, and Amelia was reading it at the time. And then there it was, looking up at me from one of the dusty tables of books. It felt like a kind of fate, and I loved the idea that it was a 12 week 'program', and there was a little over 12 weeks till the end of the year. It seemed like just the thing to carry me through those last months. I was winding up other projects, thinking about big changes for the following year, and I was very drawn to the structure. I love structure! Rules are the best! It was mostly just a nice way to re-think my own creativity, what I wanted, how I spent my time, and what made me happy. Less distractions and other people and fear and exhaustion, thanks.
And it was brilliant. I took myself on artist dates to galleries and parks, though I have to say most weeks my hour consisted of a poetry book or a few pages of my Agnes Martin biography in a quiet bar after work (with wine, of course). Even so, it was a dream to be able to prioritise just one hour to myself, to do something and be inspired just for the sake of it. I found the weekly exercises quite illuminating, and very useful. But the best part about it all has been the Morning Pages.
Each day I write three pages, first thing. Well, third thing - I meditate, then make a coffee and sit down with my notebook. The idea is not to think about the pages, not to read them back, to just write down what is on your mind. Some days that's a description of something physical or beautiful I've seen, but mostly it's how I'm feeling. It is a revelation to dig into those fears, worries, dreams, all of it. It's free-form, not quite subconscious but to me it rolls off in a way that is all its own. There's something very interesting about having to acknowledge it all, and articulate it, that is very liberating. I get much more insight into what's really going on.
I've kept it up all year and wouldn't stop for the world. It's the cheapest, most enjoyable form of therapy or self-awareness or creativity I can imagine. Most mornings I sit down and it flows, I am coming to the end of my third page before I know it. What's interesting about this last few weeks is how hard it has been - every idea leads to something else, I am constantly stopping to think something through, to make a note in my Moleskine, to stare out the window, to wonder. The practice itself changes, and it's good to be mindful of that too.
And so the notebooks pile up, I'm on my seventh and counting. Happily.