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Posts tagged ‘Julia Cameron’

Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages

Hi. My name is Polly Watson and I have an addiction. I am addicted to the works of Julia Cameron. I have read everything by her that I can get my hands on and I still have a ways to go. I am currently reading Finding Water, the third in her trifecta The Artist’s Way series. I have completed every writing prompt to the best of my ability as I have been able. I am trying to do the Artist Dates–I’m still not very good at them because I don’t do sitting still very well, but I’m trying. I am not taking the walks because I struggle with walking because of the pain in my back–and because of the summer heat.

I LOVE her idea of Morning Pages–writing 3 full pages on 8-1/2 x 11 paper immediately upon waking every single day. I believe every word Julia writes regarding the value of them and their validity in our lives. I do find myself enjoying the process as well as the simple act of writing–pen scratching across the page–each morning. I didn’t realize that I had so much going on inside my head first thing in the morning until I started writing Morning Pages! Only once or twice this summer have I had days when I simply had to force the words.

For almost 10 years, I have done Morning Pages off and on. I do much better with them in the summer than the school year. The problem during the school year is that I would much rather sleep until the last possible second, get up, and race out the door than to get up at least 45 minutes early to write my Morning Pages–in spite of how much I value them. I have completed them now every single day this summer so far. And I love writing them.

But that is most of the writing I have been doing this summer. I had all these wonderful plans as my school year came to a close of writing a LOT this summer on my memoir–of working diligently on getting it ready for publication–of sending out proposals and working on getting an agent…or getting it ready for self-publication if I changed my mind and decided to go in that direction. But I have not done any of that so far and here we are almost at the end of June.

I LOVE to write. I KNOW that I am supposed to–meant to–publish my story. I have dreamed of sharing it for years now. I even have a solid rough draft. I have my “Joy Regardless” blog that I write related to my memoir. I have enough followers for that to feel validated in following through with publishing.

So why do I continue to stall? What is the holdup? Is it only the act of writing that I love? The process? Sharing my writing is definitely a part of my writing goals, but I make no real effort to do so beyond my blogs and Morning Pages.

Maybe, just maybe, my blogs and my Morning Pages are enough….

…for now.

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Write SOMETHING…

As a writing instructor at the college level, I spend quite a bit of class time in all my classes (basic college writing classes as well as in literature classes) discussing with my students how even if they have no idea what to write [about]–what to say, they should just write SOMETHING–put SOMETHING down on paper even if that something is “I have nothing to say” over and over and over and over and over again. I have even told them to write their name over and over again if they couldn’t think of anything to write. The important thing, I always tell them, is to come to class with SOMETHING written–never come to writing class empty-handed.

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I spend a lot of class time discussing/lecturing my students on the importance of writing SOMETHING, of never coming to class empty-handed. I have stories of previous students who have written about sitting in their little red truck before class and writing about sitting in their little red truck before class writing because Mrs. Watson said never to come to class empty-handed.

I use the movie Quills as an example of how if the Marquis de Saad could find a way to write, they can find a way to write. (In the movie, the Marquis continues to write in spite of continually having his writing utensils–quills–taken away from him. He finally uses his own feces in his own desperation to write.)

Without always using the words “stream of consciousness,” I teach my students to write stream of consciousness style writing rather than not write anything at all. When they don’t know what to write, quite often just the physical act of writing sometimes helps them end up with a workable document. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as writer’s block. Those who try to argue that they have writer’s block are simply looking for an excuse not to write–do what needs to be done.

When I was growing up, I was teased mercilessly that I had “dish-pan hands” because rather than doing the dishes after supper, I would disappear into the bathroom–until the dishes were done by someone else.

In other words, we tend to avoid what we don’t want to do and many of us don’t want to write. We put a fancy spin on it by saying we have writer’s block, but it boils down to the plain and simple fact that we just don’t want to write. (I didn’t want to do the dishes, so I used the bathroom.)

As my summer is beginning, I have been excited about the opportunity to have a summer of teaching online only so I can spend my summer writing. But now that the time has come, I’m blocked–apparently I don’t want to write.

Wait a second; let me clarify that statement. I want to write. I am having a ball writing in my journals–I have several and I have written in every one every day since the Spring semester ended. I am writing letters and emails and enjoying every moment of the writing. This is already my second blog entry for this blog of mine in less than two weeks and I have enjoyed writing each entry.

The problem is that I do not want to write what I had originally intended on spending my summer writing and working on: my memoir. While I have a really good draft, I no longer have any desire to work on it at this time.

What I do want to do is color. I have been doing a lot of coloring in my journaling Bible and thoroughly enjoying it. The strangest thing about my coloring, though, is that what I really want to do is just color a whole blank page with the same color.

And that’s exactly what I did.

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 I kept telling myself that I should draw something–I should use this really cool paint pen for something more creative than simply coloring a whole blank page. So I tried drawing a few sunflowers and writing the word “joy” over and over, but I kept going back to coloring the whole page. I colored four or five whole pages….no images…just colored the pages and I loved every second of it.

A part of me felt (still feels) guilty for “wasting” the ink in this cool paint pen with coloring whole pages rather than doing something more creative and artistic with it. The other part of me feels very satisfied with my coloring pages. There was something very cathartic about coloring whole pages with a paint pen.

It was my artistic version of stream of consciousness writing. In spite of our feeling as if we’ve wasted our time by writing a bunch of so-called gibberish or coloring a whole page the same color, there is great value in doing SOMETHING. Writing the same thing over and over again or coloring a whole page one color has great artistic value–because at least I’m doing SOMETHING.

No writing is ever wasted time.

No coloring is ever wasted time.

No ART is ever wasted time.

I wonder what Julia Cameron would say…..

Coloring instead of writing

I am not ashamed of the fact that I have been coloring more these past several weeks than writing. 🙂 I have been writing, just not writing blog posts or other “serious” writing that I need to be doing. I’ll do it. I will get more serious and revise my memoir and write my blogs and other things that I’m working on–soon. Just right now, I’m having a lot of fun coloring!

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I want you to know that I have been doing this “adult” coloring for quite awhile now. I have had Johanna Basford’s Enchanted Castle and Secret Garden for about two years now. I did not jump on the adult coloring bandwagon after everyone else; I was one of the ones who never quit coloring–from childhood on! The only difference is that I did buy so-called “adult” coloring books when I found out there was such a thing.

I have always loved to color. I have a large number of Precious Moments coloring books that I have colored in over the years. (No pictures at this time, but I might try to post a few later.) I LOVE Precious Moments, so it has always been a lot of fun for me to color in those coloring books. For one or two of those coloring books, I love them so much, I refused to color in the actual book itself! I made copies of the pages and colored them instead! That also let me color the same picture more than once and use different colors or various types of mediums for coloring!

My most recent favorite medium are glitter gel pens. That’s what I have used on these pages that I have posted here, along with colored pencils. I like the way they blend together. Besides, my glitter gel pens keep running out of ink, so I have to use something else!

Creativity is creativity, though, right? So whether I am writing or coloring, I am, at least, still being creative and that is what, I feel, is most important. I hope that my enjoyment of coloring will carry over into my writing and just make my writing that much better.

Does that make any sense? Julia Cameron can probably explain it better…..

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I’ve already had to get online….

Well, it’s obviously not going to be a complete week of Reading Deprivation and/or digital [Fasting].  Haha!  Oh well.  It’s to be expected.  I AM an English Instructor at a community college, after all.  Regardless of what I may want to do or not, I do still have to check my campus emails, grade assignments, create assignments, help students with assignments, and the list goes on.

I can, though, avoid reading for pleasure as well as my own personal emails and, the big one, Facebook.

This is already a very interesting experiment, Julia Cameron.

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A week’s worth of Reading Deprivation

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I am currently reading Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY.  I have read other books by Julia Cameron and I really like the things she has to say.  She’s been there, done that as far as writing is concerned and I have come to trust her.  I find it difficult to do EVERYTHING she suggests in her books, but I do find that the things I have done that she recommends are very beneficial for my art–Writing.

I love to write–as I have shared in this blog already.  It is as much a part of me as breathing.  (As is reading, so you may be able to imagine how difficult this week already is and I’m only on the 2nd day of Reading Deprivation!)  I HAVE to write.  I love writing for myself (journaling).  I love writing my blogs–this one and my “Joy Regardless” blog (link to that one is available at the top of the screen) whether anyone reads them or not.  The fact that people are reading them excites me, but humbles me as well.  (Thank you.)  I love doing the writing I do for my job as an English instructor (assignments, emails, proposals, etc., etc., etc.).  I simply love to write.

The problem, though, is that while I have a dream of being a PUBLISHED writer, I find myself stuck in that regard.  I have written several books–mostly during NaNoWriMo (November), but I have never done anything with them.  I know that my serial-killing-teacher story is one that is worth revising and attempting to publish and I know that my Memoir is also one that NEEDS to be revised and shopped for a publisher.  But instead of doing anything about getting them published, they are languishing on my laptop, getting “dusty” from lack of use.

So in an attempt to jump-start my publishing career, I have turned to Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY to help me get motivated.  She is a great motivator.  But I am finding her “suggestion” of Reading Deprivation to be one that makes me want to punch out the lights of anyone who comes near me!  I started it last night and I yelled at my husband and son because I couldn’t find something my husband misplaced–even though I was sure I knew where he had put it!

But I want to give it a shot.  Julia Cameron talks about in week 4, how

“If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation. . . .Reading deprivation casts us into our inner silence, a space some of us begin to immediately fill [sic–split infinitive] with new words–long, gossipy conversations, television bingeing, the radio as a constant, chatty companion.  We often cannot hear our own inner voice, the voice of our artist’s inspiration, above the static.  In practicing reading deprivation, we need to cast a watchful eye on these other pollutants.  They poison the well.

If we monitor the inflow and keep it to a minimum, we will be rewarded for our reading deprivation with embarrassing speed.  Our reward will be a new outflow” (87).

In doing this Reading “Fast” or Reading deprivation, for 7 days, I will also have to give up a lot of my computer time because so much of the reading that I do is online–Facebook, emails, blogs, etc.  As an English Instructor, a week’s worth of Reading Deprivation is impossible completely because I will still need to check my school emails periodically throughout the week for important work emails–from my boss, other co-workers, and especially important emails from students.  I have created an automatic out-going message, though, for all my email accounts that state that I am doing this week of Reading Deprivation and have asked that if they need me either to come see me or call me instead of email me.

I have also sent out an announcement/email to all of my students letting them know that I am doing a week of Reading Deprivation, but that does not mean I am unavailable to them.  Again, I told them that if they need me, either come see me or call me.

Reading deprivation also means NO READING WHILE I AM IN THE BATHROOM.  I can’t even begin to explain to you how very difficult this one is going to be!  Even when I only need to be quick, I will read at least a paragraph when I go to the bathroom!  I have been reading on the toilet since I was old enough to hold a book–and knew how to read!  If I cheat on my reading “fast” this week, it will be during a bathroom visit, I’m sure!

Julia, I sure hope your suggestions in THE ARTIST’S WAY, including and especially this whole week of Reading Deprivation work and that I will begin to see and feel results in my creative life!!!!!  I know that I am meant to do more with my writing than just write for myself, so here goes nothing at finding a way to dream and dream big!!!!  🙂

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Speaking of loving to Write…..

I keep a journal that I attempt to write in every day.  I don’t make it every single day, but this is the first year where I have written in my journal almost every day compared to previous years.  Look!!!

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Several years ago, I first picked up Julia Cameron’s book, The Writing Diet.  I ate that book up!  (See what I did there?!)  Anyway, in that book, Julia speaks of her daily writing activity she calls “Morning Pages.”  She discusses Morning Pages in greater detail in her other book, The Artist’s Way, but I first read about them in The writing Diet.  Morning Pages are nothing more than writing three full pages every single morning–freewriting.  I loved the idea, so I gave Morning Pages a shot.  More often than not, I ended up doing my “Morning” Pages in the evening rather than the morning.

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I felt guilty that I couldn’t get my writing done in the mornings.  I wanted so much to do Morning Pages just as Julia Cameron suggested.  I loved every single part of the whole idea and I wanted to be successful with it.  But I could not get up early enough to do my Morning Pages in the mornings.

Then I read Mari McCarthy’s Dark Chocolate for the Journaler’s Soul wherein one of the writers shared that she, too, struggled with writing in the mornings, so she simply starting doing “Night Notes” instead.

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Huh.  So I didn’t HAVE to do my writing in the mornings!!!  And I didn’t have to feel guilty for it!  So now I write in the evenings.  I prefer to type.  I did a few practice entries by hand so I could give myself an estimate of the total number of words I wrote in three pages (Julia’s guidelines for Morning Pages).  I found that I could write approximately 750 words in three pages, so I try to write 750 words every day in my online journal.  I don’t beat myself up if I don’t make it to 750 words, mainly because there are some days when I simply do not have a lot to say, but there are other days when I write way beyond 750 words!  I wish my chain would show the days I have written more than once because I have several days when I wrote two or three entries and each entry was more than 750 words.

Currently, I have written approximately 170,000 words just in my online journal this year!!!!!  I will easily hit 200,000 words before the year is out!  Penzu (the online journal I use) sent me a message a few months ago when I first hit 100,000 words so I can have a free year of Penzu Pro next year!  So cool!  (Penzu basic is free, but if you go Pro, of course, there are many options, one of which is the ability to create several journals rather than just have one.  I have divided my by year as well as by other categories as I choose!)

If I am able to win NaNoWriMo, I will easily have at least 250,000 words for the year!  That’s a LOT of writing!!!!!  And I LOVE every last bit of it!!!!  None of the numbers I’ve shared includes any of the writing I do daily for work; I teach English at a community college!  And now I also have this blog as well as two other main ones that I keep!  (See the link at the top of the page, “Joy Regardless.”)

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