I believe we all have an impulse to create. It does not necessarily have to manifest itself in what we traditionally think of as “creating” i.e. Painting a picture, taking a photo, writing a novel, but in the little things we do each day. I think of the satisfaction I get from cooking a good meal and being able to share it with others. Now that we have a garden and a south facing sun room, I take great pleasure in watching plants grow (almost while I watch!). Creativity comes in many forms and I think we each have a duty to nurture that spirit of creating within us, as well as within others.
I was staring at my bookshelf the other day and I happened to spy Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I shamefully confess I never completed the 12-week course, but have picked it up again and was reminded of two powerful tools that I think anyone can employ to add value to each day and to fuel the creative fires.
Designed to help unleash your creativity, recover from creative blocks and also as a meditative tool, morning pages are 3 pages of longhand writing in a stream of consciousness no editing allowed form. There is no right or wrong, just the commitment to do this each morning right after you wake up. Cameron suggests that you don’t read them until after the first 8 weeks or so. She also explains that this process allows you to disassociate from your inner Censor – you know, that ugly voice that says you aren’t good enough? The trick with morning pages is to just keep writing. Fill 3 pages. It doesn’t matter what with, just that you do this every day and that you fill the 3 pages and then stop.
The Artist Date
Schedule yourself a block of about 2 hours per week (Heather White suggests making up a fake company name to add in to your calendar – clients will see your time is filled and therefore you don’t have to make excuses or sacrifice that time). This is time set aside for you to do something that feeds your creative spirit. It is JUST you. Alone. No friends or family. Go for a walk, visit a gallery, go to a movie, sit in a park in the sunshine and read a book, browse the shops – something just for you that allows you to relax and feed your soul. As importantly, it is a way for you to show commitment to yourself. Don’t let yourself weasel out of it. You wouldn’t break a date with a colleague or a friend, so don’t break your date with yourself. (Hey, it gives you something to write about in your morning pages).
These two simple tools are deceptively difficult, because for some reason it becomes harder to commit to ourselves in this busy world than it does to commit to others. I find that having some quality alone time and the chance to reflect can do wonders to the mood and whatever your creative endeavour, it can help you reconnect to the creative process and the very basics of life itself.