Its easy to spend your life wishing you were more creative, thinking that creativity is an innate trait that you werent lucky enough to be born with. With this mind-set, you make excuses, telling yourself that you would love to paint, write or play the piano, but youre simply not creative enough. Creativity expert Julia Cameron believes you are. Working on the theory that were all creative, but we need to learn how to let ourselves be creative, Cameron has helped more than 1.5 million readers of her 1992 book, The Artists Way, do just that.
The Creative Backbone “The single most powerful way to integrate creativity into your daily life is to write morning pages,” says Cameron. “These pages work for artists of all forms,” whether youre a poet or a visual artist. At their essence, Cameron says that “Morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream of consciousness, whatever crosses your mind: Oh God, another morning. I have nothing to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get the laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah. Although occasionally colorful, the morning pages are often negative, frequently self-pitying, repetitive, stilted or babyish, angry or bland—even silly sounding.
“Theres no wrong way to do morning pages,” continues Cameron. “These daily morning meanderings arent meant to be art. Or even writing. Youre simply using writing as a tool.”
Basically, Cameron feels that “all that angry, whiny, petty stuff you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity. Worrying about your job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car—this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days.”
Refilling the Well “Art is an image-using system,” says Cameron. “In order to create, we draw from our inner well. This inner well, an artistic reservoir, is ideally like a well-stocked trout pond. As artists we have an ecosystem that must be maintained. If you go fishing, you must replenish the well. Overtapping the well, much like overfishing the pond, leaves us with diminished resources.”
The two tools you can use to replenish yourself when you go fishing are the morning pages and the weekly artist date. “An artist 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. You dont take anyone else along.
“For the artist date,” continues Cameron, “you go out and push the envelope and do something interesting. You can go to the art museum or a hip-hop show, or visit a fabric shop just to see all the silk. Something that fills the well and is more of an adventure. Its not about mastering. Its about a sense of play and adventure.”
Ultimately, combining this sense of play and adventure with writing the morning pages will provide you with the keys you need to lead a more creative life. All you have to do is give them a try.