Friday Favorites 12/9/2010

Flowers by Bud

Almost since I began posting on Older Eyes – Buds’ Blog, I’ve talked about doing Morning Pages, the morning writing discipline I learned from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.  Morning Pages are two to three (Julia says three) pages of writing done first thing in the morning.   The idea is to keep the pen moving and write whatever comes into your mind.   I’ve been doing it most days for close to twenty years, and of all the things I do to get my day off to a good start, Morning Pages is the most effective.   Before I began doing Morning Pages, I journaled on specific topics … for example, How can I be more spiritual? The problem for me was that in picking a topic and constraining my writing to that topic, I wrote about what I wanted to write about and often said what I wanted to hear.   Once I disciplined myself to write anything and everything that came to mind in my Morning Pages, I wrote more about what I needed to write about than what I wanted to write about … and more frequently the truth about what was going on in my life spilled onto the page.  Although seeing your own truths is sometimes awkward at first, it does, in fact, set you free.   In the process, I developed the ability to write very spontaneous, visceral prose.

Although the stated purpose of The Artist’s Way is to reconnect you with your Inner Artist, what the book really does is provide numerous techniques to break through self-perceptions and beliefs to see who you really are.  One of those techniques involves making lists … quickly.    As I said in Bearable … Good … Wonderful, writing quickly reduces the possibility that our Inner Censor will influence our answers.   An example?  In Buried Dreams, An Exercise, Cameron asks us to make six quick-lists: (1) Five hobbies that sound like fun; (2) Five classes that sound like fun; (3) Five things you would never do that sound like fun; (4) Five skills that you would like to have; (5) Five things you used to enjoy doing; and (6) Five silly things you would like to enjoy once.   Try it … and remember, no thinking.   It’s a techique I’ve used to answer thornier questions: Why does my friend, Joe Abegotz, drive me so crazy? (quick … ten reasons)

Working The Artist’s Way is a twelve week program.   If you look around, there are likely groups of aspiring artists working it together.   Each week has a theme of recovering some aspect of yourself:  Integrity, Compassion, Autonomy, Faith.   There are numerous exercises and many lists to write.  There are daily Morning Pages and Artist’s Dates with yourself.   There are intentional changes in routine to expedite the process of seeing things differently.  Week 4: Recovering a Sense of Integrity is a week of reading and television deprivation.  Yes. no reading.   No TV.   The Artist’s Way is also peppered with inspiring quotes from artist’s and philosophers … In a dark time, the eye begins to see – Theodore Roethke … and useful principles … God, I’ll take care of the quantity, You take care of the quality.

The Artist’s Way changed me as perhaps no other book has.   Any such book should come with a caution: GOVERNMENT WARNING – Working The Artist’s Way can be temporarily disruptive to your life.   Finding out who you are, what you believe, what you wish you’d done can be messy, for you and those around you.   Just because you wish you had done something doesn’t mean you have to do it now … and just because something you believe was taught to you doesn’t mean you don’t believe it.   In the end, I found that my values, my beliefs and even my interests were pretty much what I started out with.   I just appreciated them more and knew they were mine.  The biggest lesson I learned was the Marcel Proust quote that appears at at the beginning of Bud’s Blog – The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

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5 Comments on “Friday Favorites 12/9/2010”

  1. granny1947 Says:

    Lovely post Bud….think i must give some of those tips a try…first hurdle…when????

  2. You sure sold me! I *must* buy a copy of The Artist’s Way. And, I would LOVE to embark on the Twelve Week program. The hardest thing for me would be the NO TV part!

    • oldereyes Says:

      It is an amazing book if you’re willing to do the exercises. For me, giving up TV sports was hardest. But it gave me a sense of where I was spending (wasting?) my time.

  3. undividing Says:

    I’ve always liked that idea of just writing out whatever comes to mind – but I’ve never thought about it as more than a writer’s block exercise. I’ll have to try it more regularly though, because I think you’re right, writing freely probably pulls you into areas that you didn’t know you needed to go in.

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