Last year I wrote about starting to work on Julia Cameron’a The Artist’s Way with a local group of artists. I haven’t said much in a long time, probably since before the pandemic began. I thought I’d give you a little update about the process.
The group is still meeting once a month, generally with me in attendance. We moved to Zoom meetings when the pandemic began. We are down to four fully-committed women. Last week we worked on chapter nine where I learned that enthusiasm is more important than discipline (YAY!!!!) and that all artists make creative U-turns upon occasion. When we finish the book, we plan to start work on another book but haven’t yet decided which one.
If you’re familiar with TAW (The Artist’s Way), you know that there are two permanent parts and one temporary one. The temp component is working the book itself–reading it and doing the exercises. Though temporary, reading the book can be done over and over again. The permanent and most important parts are Morning Pages and Artist Dates.
I am here to fess up that I doubt I can ever complete TAW the way Julia Cameron wants us to. What works for her and thousands of people doesn’t work for me. I have to do it my way (can you hear the song there? hah).
First let me tell you the brilliant part of TAW–for me. It’s the Artist Dates. Because art is all about PLAY and ENTHUSIASM, I love giving myself permission to play in and about anything creative. So when I ordered the supplies for an art journal and got all excited about it, that was an Artist Date. When I started work on the Wild Unknown tarot cards, that was an Artist Date.
The book itself is fun and gives me ideas of how to think about creativity
and writing itself, but I am not a blocked artist, and I really think the program is geared for the blocked artist, the frustrated artist, or someone who is prone to getting blocked. Many times someone is blocked because other people have rained on their parade which is so extremely unfortunate. Luckily, I have not had a lot of those experiences or at least ones that I really took to heart. But I know others who have had that happen over and over again.
OK, now the last part of the program is the Morning Pages. Some people think these are the most crucial. I hate them, and after trying them, I refuse to do them any more. They are just work. More stuff that I “have to” do–about the opposite of play and enthusiasm as you can get. So why do I have to do them? 😉 (Hint: I don’t!) That said, I see them helping other people, so I am not dissing the concept or the application.
I’m just being honest about my participation in the process.
I had one of my stupid complicated migraines the other day and it has lingered, maybe because of the VF. Otherwise, I am doing fine, and I am sure that I am getting better. In two or three more months I should be completely well. Grateful!!!!
We had Thanksgiving on the patio with Mexican food yesterday with daughter and her fiance. Thursday the gardener and I will dine alone. Yes, it will include gluten free stuffing. Stuffing is the “Artist Date” of the Thanksgiving menu hahaha.
Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans this week. Please stay safe. With the vaccine on the horizon we want to be in good health to really appreciate life after the vaccine.
My boys . . .
56 responses to “Creativity is Play”
Good luck with your creative playing! I’m all for that. 😀
I’m glad you got to see your daughter and future son-in-law. Happy Thanksgiving!
The boys really look like they’re posing (and humoring you). Haha.
Writing a poem feels like the ultimate playing! My boys do like to humor me . . . to a point haha. Perry knocked me in the face accidentally the other night and gave me a tiny bit of a black eye. He’s so big and strong and skittish. :/ Happy Thanksgiving, Merril!
Hahaha-oops! Thanks, Luanne!
I DO like doing morning pages; for me, the practice sweeps away the cobwebs. But the quest is all about finding what works for each individual, I think, with our different inclinations and strengths and history. I was just talking to my son about that; he’s having some learning-type testing done, and we agreed that it would be a wonderful thing if children at school learned about their strengths at a very young age…and then learned how to enjoy those strengths!
I hope you are feeling better every day!
Thank you, Pam!
Some of us probably never find our strengths. Some blunder into them by mistake–and at all different ages. It’s random and unfortunate. Of course, I wouldn’t want to shut out possibilities for people though. You know, in the way, they do in the society of The Giver. Everyone doesn’t find a “fit” by age 12.
So interesting about the morning pages. Yes, I’ve heard that about the cobwebs. I think six litterboxes and a kitty puke or two and some dirty waterbowls and six hungry mouths clamoring knocks out some of my cobwebs. The other ones must stay in and catch flies ;). I think I understand why they work for so many. They just annoy me. I tried them for a few months. That was enough torture for me!
We have to find our own best ways, and I am sure that has something to do with learning styles and our unique approaches…it’s good that there are so many different avenues! And I agree…locking kids into an expectation is not good either. We should be in the business of opening doors, never closing them!
Ditto!!!!!! Well put.
I have never heard of that. It sounds interesting. I think of you as a prolific writer. I occasionally get blocked but there is always a reason — illness, extreme stress about something, etc. Sometimes I write about what’s bothering me disguising it up a bit so I don’t look like a looney tune character! 🙂 Love the kitties.
I agree about illness and stress, etc. I don’t really think of those as blocks for myself. I think of them more as “not a good time to write.” Does that make sense? The kind of blocks that TAW seems to deal with are more like people not practicing their art and beating themselves up over being “lazy” when it’s really a fear of failure or fear of success or all the negative voices in one’s own head. A lot of times it seems to be people whose parents were not supportive of their art, but it can be negative comments from mentors, peers, etc.
I hear you on the looney tune character ;).
Yes, my kitties are so beautiful. Like yours.
I’m sure even in TAW rules are meant to be broken as deemed fit. Love the cat in the cat person box!
That is how I take everything. But according to Julia Cameron the morning pages are not negotiable. I hate that kind of rigid thinking. Who set her up as the Goddess anyway? I guess I have a bit of the rebel in me hahahaha. That is Felix. He is the sweetest boy EVER and so very sensitive.
I still do morning pages, although mine are shorter than she recommends, but have done it for decades. Just never could get the hang of the Artist Dates! What’s the matter with me? She has another I’ve enjoyed working through, “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.”
That’s what I used to ask myself about the Morning Pages! What’s the matter with me? Then I decided nothing. I am who I am like you are who you are. That book you mention is one of them we are considering. One of the women has read it and said it’s very similar to TAW. Would you agree with that or is it sufficiently different for us to move right from TAW to that one? Otherwise we can find something with a different spin.
I threw out my copy of TAW a couple of years ago and then bought a new one recently to give it a whirl again, now that I’m retired. Still haven’t started! Not that I’m blocked, I’m more indecisive about what project I want to tackle next or should I just write a poem instead of a short story or a personal essay or a blog post. Not that I’m complaining. Happy to be alive and have choices! And happy Thanksgiving to you, Luanne. Enjoy your stuffing artist’s date.
Didn’t you throw out a lot of books some time ago? I seem to recall that. That rebuying is the problem with the getting rid of haha. Indecisive might be a form of “blockage” if it keeps you away from writing or causes you to write less than you otherwise might (though how you know that one, I don’t know). I wonder if setting an assignment for yourself would work? Kind of like a writing constraint, but for genre. I don’t know if that would help for you, but it might for me because it would take away the other options, temporarily of course. I have had that feeling before of not knowing what to write next. Assignment 1: write a poem Assignment 2: write a blog post Assignment 3: write a short story draft hahahaha Thanks for the Happy Thanksgiving. Do you celebrate it as well as the Canadian one? If so, HT!
We’ve had several book purges over the years and I don’t regret any of them. We live in a very small house and all of us are readers. We’d have to move out if every book we bought stayed. No, I threw out TAW because, like you, I disliked the morning pages. I sounded like a whiny brat in them and thought if I died suddenly and they were left behind I would not want ANYONE to read them. Also, I was resistant to several of the ideas, like the no-reading edict, which was ridiculous at the time as I was employed at a job that required reading of all kinds. To not read would have been not doing my job and left me open to dismissal. There was a lot I didn’t like about the book but I also see its merits now and am less likely to think of the book as a holus-bolus commandment. I will pick and choose the pieces of the process that work for the stage of life I’m at. I also tend to balk at rules so maybe the book isn’t for me after all?! Maybe I’ll throw it out again!
Wow, you are like me! The gardener laughs and sometimes says I have oppositional defiant disorder! I rebel against anybody setting themselves up as the random decision-maker for how I should live my life. I don’t rebel at stuff like MASKS for safety and health, but stuff that seems pointless for me and others I may affect. The no reading thing is ridiculous and I did not follow it. It’s just not possible in today’s world. That said, I understand the reasons behind some of this stuff. It just doesn’t all work for me.
I understand about the book purges. I hope someone else enjoys the books you get rid of.
Happy Thanksgiving week to you, Luanne. For us Canadians, it will be just another day in paradise, but I realize it’s a big deal in the States. I sure hope you’re feeling better soon.
Thanks so much, Anneli, for the well wishes and the happy holiday sentiment. The gardener and i will be alone on Thursday, but I am making a bacon-wrapped turkey breast so that might make up for the lack of a full turkey (and the resulting turkey soup).
Sounds like good common sense and I’m sure you’ll have a great dinner with half the stress.
Happy Thanksgiving, Luanne. I’m glad you are making progress on the VF. Like you, I take my creative Artist Dates as I want them. 😁
Yes, here’s to Artist Dates!!!! Happy Thanksgiving, John, to you and yours. Make sure those pups get a little turkey!
Thank you, Luanne. They never do without.
Nice post, Luanne. I did the morning pagest for a long time, and I can see the benefit, but I gave them up too because they began to interfere with the “real” writing I was eager to do. Love hearing about all your writing adventures! You scatter inspiration with everything you do!
I’m all about doing the “real” writing as well!
The giving them up because they were interfering is part of what I don’t like about them. Maybe if they were one page or even a half page every morning (with the idea that you can write more if you like) that would be more acceptable. But handwriting three full pages is beyond me. The arthritis rebels against that, even if I didn’t! Thanks, Carla. Please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Are you and D making a turkey? I am going to make a bacon wrapped turkey breast for the two of us.
I know what you mean. Sometimes three pages of writing is all I can do in a day! It should be more important writing. We decided to grill a brisket! It turned out pretty well, not perfect. Nice quiet day for the two of us.
Good one, Luanne – I’m not much of a joiner so I will trust your opinions on the group. I admire your trying to participate!
Please take care – I hope the migraine vanishes soon!!
Happy Thanksgiving – loved the picture of your boys.
LOL, I am not a joiner either, but I forced myself to do this, in part because I don’t know enough people in this city and after living here this long that seemed sort of antisocial. But I greatly prefer zoom meetings to in person because it is time-saving and more comfortable for me. Perry joins the meeting with me.
Yes, my boys are such sweeties. The migraine seems gone today, so I am hopeful that today will be a good one.
Please have a happy Thanksgiving–and a safe one.
Here’s to no more migraines – and zoom meetings.
Your post piqued my curiousity, so I checked out Julia Cameron’s blog. I’m a person who rebels against creativity exercises, but I know they work for some people. To each her own!
I really like writing prompts, but especially really good ones. They have to be complex enough–not just “write about a sunset” or I don’t really engage. So are prompts like creativity exercises or are you talking about things to prime the pump only?
Creativity prompts annoy me–but that could be because they’ve been forced on me at work. I can go with ekphratic writing prompts.
Oh yeah. I would hate them, too!
I appreciate your thoughts on TAW. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve worked through it at least a couple of times. I found it mostly helpful, but I hated the no-reading books period. However, I think that would do wonders for my writing 😬. I’m glad you are getting better. Do take care of yourself and all those beautiful kitties!
Thanks, Cheryl. You too–you and your kitties, I mean! Yes, no reading is so crazy. From what I’ve gleaned, most writers and artists could use more book reading hahaha. And how can one get by without reading a cereal box in the morning? (just kidding, sort of) So did you like the Morning Pages? If so, do you still do them? It seems that the point is to do them for the rest of your life . . . . (sound of gagging)
I journal first thing every morning while drinking my coffee. But it’s not really the stream of consciousness writing I think of with MP. I write about things on my mind, what’s going on in the world, the weather, things that are bothering me (usually myself! 🤣🤣🤣), plants/animals I’ve recently noticed, etc. Not all of that everyday. It’s more deliberate, I think. Maybe a bit like a diary. Writing in this way helps me know how I’m feeling and thinking. Otherwise I might go through my days in a whirl. I’ve also had great story kernels/memories/ideas pop up. I don’t worry if I miss a day. And I might write one page or ten. It all depends.
You describe the difference between journaling and morning pages very well. In the early 80s I kept a journal for a few years but then I never did again. But I do want to try this art journal thing. I think that is remarkable that you have kept up with the journaling like that.
But what to do with the hundreds of filled journals and notebooks? That’s the question.
Read them to pull out stuff from them? Turn them into art journals by painting and stuff over them? Will them to your kids?
I’ve never read The Artist’s Way, but a totally agree that creativity is play, and enthusiasm. How can you play without enthusiam!? So totally understand your opting out of the daily pages routine. Wishing you well and a speedy recovery, Luanne. Thoughts and prayers.
Thank you, Deborah. I hope you and yours are doing well.
Happy Thanksgiving! I read The Artist’s Way waaaay back, and never finished the entire book, I’m sure. And I only took bits and pieces that inspired me. I feel the same about the morning pages. I write every day- but not because I have to. I write stories with my creative writing classes that I teach, I write a gratitude piece because it makes me feel good, and I write e-mails to stay connected to friends, which to me, counts as writing. But ENTHUSIASM and JOY – those two things prevent writer’s block!
Pam, so sort of glad or even happy to hear you feel the same way about morning pages!
I’m glad you’ve found playfulness and some excitement from the Artists Way. I did try reading it but just couldn’t get into it. I also tried morning pages for a while, but like you, found it too much work!
Yes, well put. Too much work. Not play and not enough “payoff.”
I like that you decided not to do what was dull work for you.
I hope that you and your husband had a peaceful, pleasant Thanksgiving and that you continue to gather strength.🔴
Dull work is right. Ick. My daily thoughts are not that exciting, especially first thing in the morning when the cats are hungry and my work-work day begins early. Thanksgiving was fine. Not great, but fine.
I am so glad you’re feeling better, Luanne (despite the migraine)! I love your attitude: play and enthusiasm. That’s the ticket 😉 Thank you for your honest assessment of the TAW. I still have my unread copy. I’m now thinking (after reading your post), that TAW might be helpful for me in transitioning from my old life to my new life. Worth a try anyway 🙂
I f you use TAW for the transition I sure hope you blog about it! I’d love to read that!
Hope you’re getting better and better with the danged VF!
Your ‘boys’ are soooo cute!
That book is something I’m sure I would’ve definitely gotten into in my younger days. But now, I’m too lazy! I’m so caught up in social media plus my blog, ay yi, what can i tell you! The days speed by *really* fast when you’re a septuagenarian (sp.?)!
LOL I hear you on the lazy thing. I can see that happening in my future. Everything gets more difficult and time-consuming as one ages! You stay safe, too!
I love that you had Mexican food for your Thanksgiving Dinner. I also loved your post, Luanne. 🙂
Thanks, Carol. The food was good and no worries about eating with family and sharing dishes!