Back in July of 2006, I did a writer’s workshop for the American Night Writer’s Association’s annual summer retreat based on a wonderful book I found called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan.
So without further ado, I am presenting to you: Discovering the Writer Within—a creative way to restore creativity for all artists searching for their best self.
Whether you believe it or not, we have all been born with creativity. Not only have we been born with creativity in writing but in other avenues as well. Julia Cameron who wrote The Artist’s Way has had conversations that went something like this…….
“When people ask me what I do, I usually answer, “I’m a writer-director and I teach these creativity workshops.”
The last one interests them…..
“How can you teach creativity?” they want to know.
“I can’t,” I tell them. “I teach people to let themselves be creative.”
“Oh. You mean we’re all creative?” They ask in disbelief.
“You really believe that?”
“Yes, I do.”
Yes, she really does believe it and so do I. We are the channel for novels, nonfiction writing, young adult stories, children’s stories, inspirational articles and the list goes on and on. We have been chosen by our Heavenly Creator to share with others the inspirations that we receive on all subjects.
Giacomo Puccini once said: “The music of this opera (Madame Butterfly) was dictated to me by God; I was merely instrumental in putting it on paper and communicating it to the public life.”
I have felt that way many times over the course of the 20 years I have been writing to be published. God dictates to me what to say and I write it down. I think many of us do this as well. We are given our stories, our articles, and our writings from God and we dictate it on paper to communicate it to public life.
There are some basic principles to learn in helping ourselves to become our best creative self for all areas of our lives and Julia Cameron goes through step by step to help us recover the creativity we already have within. You do have creativity in you. You just need to learn how to recover it.
Although we are given certain gifts, sometimes we need a little nudge or encouragement to keep our creativity going. There are two pivotal tools according to Julia Cameron that we can use to keep our writing going.
Tool # 1: Morning pages: In Julia’s words: (We are on a first name basis now) “In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it. I ask you to do this by an apparently pointless process I call the morning pages. Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of long, hand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.”
You have nothing to write, you say??? It doesn’t matter. You can start off writing, “I have nothing to say. I need to do laundry. My curtains are dirty. Blah, Blah, Blah.” This small every day task drains your brain of garbage and is not meant to be art.
Julia says: “These pages are meant to be simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. You shouldn’t read them back and nobody else is allowed to read them either.”
Theodore Roethke says: “A mind too active is no mind at all.” I think we can all relate to that. Julia also says: “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity. Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your spouses eyes—this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page”
And it works!!!! I’ve been doing morning pages on and off since I read this book in 2006. I was better at doing it every day from the start but now after 5 filled up notebooks of stream-of-conciseness writings, I try to write in my morning pages notebook at least 3 times a week. It is amazing how it works. The trash and worries of the day are on paper and you are ready to get some real writing work done.
Tool #2: Artist’s Date: An Artists Date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers.
Julia suggests you don’t take anyone with you. But with children and husband and our busy schedules I found it was easier to take children or husband with me than to not do it at all. But there were weeks that I found myself a two hour block where I could get away to some artistic time.
“Suggested Artist’s dates: long country walks, expeditions to the mountains or beach, see a concert, opera or play. Go dancing or watch a ballet. Even spending time in solitude with your artistic child is self-nurturing. There are museums, old houses, antique stores—the sky is the limit. You are filling your well and it should be fun. Do not do what you should do, do what intrigues you. Explore what interests you; think mystery not mastery.”
This has helped as well. Although with a busy schedule of children and husband, I don’t get to do this every week but, it does do wonders when you do get to indulge in an artist’s date and creativity will come bouncing out in no time at all. Feel free to find The Artist’s Way, as there are more ideas waiting to be used to restore our creative self. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and refer to it all the time.