The Artist’s Way – Morning Pages, Failure and Censorship

On a recommendation from a friend I picked up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way a few weeks ago.

In short it’s a 12 week program for rediscovering your creativity, healing old wounds that keep us from being expressive and basically getting us creative types back on our feet again.  Mind you, I don’t feel like I haven’t been on my feet, but I figure some bolstering is never a bad deal.

The program consists of three major things:

  1. Morning Pages: 3 pages of writing first thing in the morning, anything, it’s kinda a brain purge
  2. Artist’s Date: a block of time to yourself to play, in a bookstore, in a museum, bowling – anything your inner artistic child wants to do
  3. Weekly exercises to get you to think about blocks, etc. that may be causing you issue

Now, first thing’s first.  I am BUSY!  Three kids, my marvelous husband, a home, a full time job, a treadmill and my artwork.  Time is always an issue.  As such, I completely failed the first week.  I did my morning pages almost every day and  missed my artist’s date since Bernie Sanders came to my city the night I had it planned.  I suck.

I did, however, do the weekly exercises and the insight provided was startling.

The exercise for this week focused around identifying your critics.  The folks in the past who have discouraged your creative endeavors with cruel words, or disinterest.  Then, addressing them via a written letter, basically telling them to go to hell.  I love nothing better than telling assholes to go to hell, so I was excited.

As an adolescent, I wrote often, primarily in journals.  Here was my experience in a nutshell.  Mockery by my step-dad and his brother when they read my journal.  Warnings from my mother that writing things down was dangerous because there was no taking it back, basically, once you write it down you are vulnerable.  My ex-husband breaking in to my home to read my journals after we separated.  This is a summary of the basics without capturing all of my feelings about those incidents, but they left their mark.

What I learned was to be careful, to censor, to keep the guard up.  Freely expressing is dangerous and leaves you open to mockery, betrayal and having your own creations used against you.  A valuable lesson in the power of what I create and my mother wasn’t wrong.  What was wrong is what I took away from it.  Instead of honoring the power there, I ran from it.  I censor.

Of course, now the question is … what the hell do I do about it.  I’m thinking this is one of those ‘awareness’ issues.  I’ve learned to identify my censor so I can watch for it.  Frightening to think what sort of nonsense will pop out of me if I’m NOT censoring!  Stay tuned, we’ll see how it goes.

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