Morning Pages–to write or not to write

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I have a secret agent who helps me create.  ‘’Call me Pages, Morning Pages,’’ she says, and smiles.  She holds sharpened pencils in one hand, sheets of paper in the other.

Yes, I am talking about Julia Cameron’s invention, morning pages.  Three handwritten pages, whatever comes to mind, each day before I move to the writing or drawing, coaching or blogging.  Letting my mind wander.  Letting thoughts surface and have their say.  Letting emotions move through me, easily or not.  Letting beliefs and memories show up to say ‘notice me’.  Planning to do this, then this, and this.

I’ve been writing morning pages for years, since October 1994 to be precise.  Not constantly, but mostly, daily.  They show me who I am in this moment, where I have been, where I am going, where I’d like to go and what I’d like to do.

These daily pages are my place to gripe loudly and to discover inspiration.  Yes, both, sometimes the first leading to the second.  Funny that, and true.  Reassuring that I can be off balance, feel it, then move on and into my creative self, the clouds having cleared.

This, for me, is why morning pages are my secret agent.  They clear my way to walk into my creative self, whatever I am doing this day.  Pages open me to a clear mind and a clear heart, pair my mind and heart so they partner each other in whatever I am creating.

This is when my writing, drawing, coaching, and blogging are their best.  This is when my mind and heart speak as one voice.  Try this, they say, and I do.

What comes of this mind-heart partnership are choices, actions, and creations that connect me to other people, heart and mind to heart and mind.  Connection, communication, understanding.  Realizations that are clear, heart-felt, accepting, inspired, wise.

I have my days of resisting my morning pages, even now after twenty-two years.  I don’t feel like it.  I’m too tired.  I’m too lazy.  I want to go direct to my creating and not waste any time.  I need to get other things done.

I have lots of excuses.

None are valid.

I know better, yet I will use the excuse of the day and not write my pages.  I move straight to my creating, bringing with me a mind hazy with complaints and cluttered with random thoughts, a heart holding unexpressed emotions that should have been felt and acknowledged.

For me, this is not the way in which to create.  What I do this day will likely need to be undone tomorrow.  I know this from long experience.  Yet still, once in a while, I have to test it again and choose to ignore writing my morning pages.

What is this resistance, this obstinate choice I occasionally make?

I think I do this to remind myself of why I write my pages.  I re-experience how I feel and think and the not-quality creating that results from a hazy, cluttered, random mind and heart that are not working together.

Today, before I wrote this post, I wrote my morning pages.  True, they were more like noon pages.  That is alright.  The pages got written.  The blog post got created.  And all is right in my world because my secret agent was on the job today.

‘‘Call me Pages, Morning Pages.’’

Thanks, Pages.

__________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Julie Cameron’s morning pages, from The Artist’s Way, Tarcher-Putman, 1992, pages 9 -18.  http://juliacameronlive.com/

Morning pages also move me past my internal critic.  https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/2016/03/31/writing-past-the-internal-critic

 

A Non-Crisis of Confidence (Internal Critic Part 2)

 

2.'Meat For The Cheshire'--Cat Fink
Meat for the Cheshire

Guess what? My internal critic is back. Yes, she’s back, rather like the Terminator but not half so interesting.

I should say, she is trying to come back. I am not letting her. There is choice involved here, and I am using it. The word to my internal critic is NO.

The thing about my internal critic is she tries to make me feel I have no power and no choice. She tells me how badly I am doing, how I don’t possess the skills or experience I need. How what I am creating is all wrong. It is ugly, or stupid, or been done before or better by others. It’s not worth anyone’s time and I’m not worth anyone’s time. I’ll embarrass myself, family, friends.

Putting it plainly, my internal critic is a bitch.  No sugar-coating it.  A bitch who is attempting to keep me safe by stopping me from creating and from creating publicly. She is all fear. There is no love in anything she says. Safety is not the same as love.

What I have recently discovered is that my internal critic actually serves a purpose for me. When she shows up, I know I am not standing in my authentic self as artist, writer, creativity coach, blogger. She tells me when I am not claiming and using my power as the creator I am.

She tells me when I am working and creating from my head and not my heart. My best, strongest, most expansive creations come from my heart and love. Passion. My head is brilliant at organizing, planning, structure, logic, and detail. I need and treasure what it does, but what it does must be partnered by my heart and love.

I know why my internal critic has been especially active the last two weeks. I am moving into a big creation right now, taking a major dream and making it real and public. Something this important and integral to me feels both amazing and scary. My internal critic has noticed and turned up her volume in order to protect me from getting hurt.

She is trying to stop me.

Stopping? Not going to happen.

Not creating this dream would hurt me most.

So, my internal critic, I thank you for voicing your noisy, negative concern. Believe it or not, I love you for helping me see.

Here is how it will go. The creator in me feels and knows where I am going and what dream I am making real. The creator in me feels and knows the possibilities that are here shining before me. The creator in me knows my power and how to use it.

This is what I choose. My power is love. I make my dream real.

________________________

 

You will know from my posts that Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg, and Lynda Barry are my creativity heroes. In their books, they talk about the internal critic, how it affects them, struggling with it and what they do about it, how they move past her or him (or it) to get to their creating. Their stories have taught me how to work with my internal critic, and how to get past to where the creating is. If you are curious, my ‘Resources I Use’ page, https://catfinkknowtrustchoosecreate.com/resources-i-use/ ,  has more information about these awesome creators and their books.

Writing Past the Internal Critic

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My studio window is open. It is a gorgeous day. Sun. Blue sky. Sweet warm air. My bamboo chimes are moving with the wind, sounding between the calls of robins and chickadees and songbirds I can’t identify but whose voices I love.

Perfect weather. Or maybe not. My internal writing weather, up until this moment, was all ice, frozen way below zero.

In other words, for the last two hours I have not been practising the art of creativity. I have been practising the art of procrastination, and doing it well.

As a direct result, I have renewed a studio rule for myself. First write the blog post.  Then, and only then, turn on the laptop and play in the email and the internet.

I already knew this. If I turn on my laptop before I write, I am lost. My email inbox and the internet in general are a wonderful and devious distraction. Even as I play in them, I know what I am doing—putting off the writing.

Why? I love writing. Totally true. I am not a writer who prefers having written. I am a writer who prefers being in the action of writing, being in the energy and process of creating. Having written is fun and satisfying, but being in writing is where the whole of me sings. I am in love when I am writing. Joyful. Playing. It is work, yes, my work, and it fills me when I am in the midst of it. Work that is play.

So why the two hours of mucking around on my laptop and putting off the writing?

Most of what I have been doing the last four weeks has been needed and necessary, but most of it has not been writing. I am out of practice is the simplest way of saying it. When I get out of practice, my internal critic attempts a coup to stop me ever writing (or creating) again.

She is sneaky, my internal critic. This morning she got me to turn on my laptop to do some essential research. Ha ha. There should be quotation marks around the word essential.

She is a know-it-all, opinionated and bossy. She used to be able to stop me in my tracks, keep me away from the page and from the easel. Now she only manages to occasionally slow me down for a couple of hours. My love of creating is stronger than any fears she can throw in my way.

Over the years of creating, I have found ways to distract and weaken my internal critic. Here are two that work well for me.

Continue reading “Writing Past the Internal Critic”

Believing is seeing

Velveteen_RabbitThere is a story I read uncounted times before I was ten years old. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

I loved not only the words. I loved the drawings by William Nicholson as well. I would trace my finger along the lines of the words and images. I wasn’t consciously imagining I was writing or drawing. No. But there was something compelling, some feeling that filled me as my finger touched the shapes on the pages. Two dimensions becoming three dimensions in my imagination.

In Margery’s story, love and belief change the velveteen rabbit from stuffed toy to Real.

Isn’t this what I am doing, every time I write and draw? Love and belief becoming the words on the page and the lines in the drawing. Words becoming story. Lines becoming image. Real.

I hear people say believing is seeing. They are right.

Belief changes everything.

So does love.

When I write and draw, I can’t see the end of what I am creating. I don’t know how the story will close. I can’t see the image that will be there after I place the last mark on the paper.

Continue reading “Believing is seeing”

Tell me I’m an artist

misc.pics 128When I was eighteen, I tried to become an artist.

I loved school and I believed in school, so I got myself accepted to university and started my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I thought courses and a diploma and those letters, BFA, after my name would make me an artist.

I thought being an artist came from outside. Like being knighted. I dub thee ‘Artist’. One of my art teachers would surely tell me, ‘’Cat, you are an artist.’’

All through that year, I hoped someone would see me, the artist me. I didn’t say it out loud, or whisper it. I never wrote it down on paper or the covers of my sketch books or a bathroom wall. Tell me I’m an artist.

I was so desperate for this, it must surely have been printed across my face. It must have leapt out of every piece of art I created (both the amazing and the dreadful) and every essay I wrote.

It didn’t happen. No one said these magic words.

I left the Fine Arts Department after that first year. I got my diploma in Business Administration instead, and went to work for the government.

Yes, go ahead and laugh.

Continue reading “Tell me I’m an artist”

How to create sideways

 

banfftable.detailI am a sideways creator.  I travel my own route, follow what feels right to me.  I will listen to what others say, and test out their rules and their methods.  If the rules or the methods feel right, I use them.  If not, I shift a bit to the left or right, sideways, the direction my heart is telling me, and go forward from there.

These are my current rules for creating sideways:

  1. I am the Creator of my creations. No one else is.
  2. There are no Rules with a capital ‘R’.
  3. I get to make up any rules I want for myself, but I can’t impose these on anyone else.
  4. I can add, change, discard, and break my rules any time I wish.
  5. I can make up different rules for each thing I create.
  6. I can make up no rules at all for my creating.
  7. My rules are only a starting point.
  8. I can try out anyone else’s rules if I feel like it, and see if they work for me.
  9. The best rules come from my heart.  What do I love?  What feels good and makes me happy?  What do I want to play with?  What do I want to share?
  10. My rules are play.

There are key words here for the creating sideways method.  Feeling.  Heart.  For myself.  Love.  Happy.  Play.  Share.  This is all I need, all I need carry with me into my studio and into my life.