First on the list for 2018 is getting back to writing my Morning Pages every day this year. If you're not familiar with Morning Pages, they are a tool taught in The Artist's Way by the inimitable Julia Cameron. If you haven't read or worked through The Artist's Way, go get yourself a copy now; Amazon has used copies available for a couple of bucks, plus shipping. The book is a self guided creativity course designed to help you reflect on barriers to your own artistic life, and work through blocks of all kinds, allowing you to dream big again. It's full of big artistic thoughts and small, tangible tips on how to move forward as an artist in this world. Read it. You won't be sorry.
Simply put, Morning Pages are three handwritten pages that you write in a journal every morning upon waking. That means no social media checking, no scrolling through the news, and no coffee beforehand. The goal is to capture your stream of consciousness on paper immediately as a way of recognizing and reflecting on any thoughts or feelings you may have without the rest of life interfering.
Sounds simple, right? Yes and no. I started experimenting with Morning Pages more than a decade ago, and had days when I could have written ten pages, and other days where I filled three pages with one phrase again and again. "I'm frustrated and I feel stuck." The idea is to capture whatever it is that is rolling around in your head and heart at the moment. Seeing what is inside is the first step to figuring out where you might be stuck as an artist, and as a person, and from there, you have the opportunity to imagine possibilities that would allow you to feel fulfilled, creative, and challenged.
When I began my Morning Pages, I wasn't doing much theatre. It wasn't always easy to set aside the 15 minutes I needed to write and I didn't see any radical transformation at first. But eventually, I kept showing up and kept writing, and I did discover insights about myself that were buried under the surface.
One day, not planning it, I wrote I want to start a theatre company. This was the start of the Charlottesville Women's Theatre Project that ran for almost three years. In 2009, I found myself writing I want to go to graduate school for theatre. Where were these things coming from? How could I not notice that I had these desires until they came flowing out of my pen on the paper? It really did feel like magic.
Now, it's years later and I'm working on my second theatre company, and have earned my Master's from Emerson College in Theatre Education. I truly believe that if not for Morning Pages, I might never have unearthed these desires and might still feel stuck. These small sessions of 15 minutes a day literally changed the course of my entire life.
Now, in 2018, I am starting to feel that kind of restlessness again when it comes to my artistic life, like something is next, but I don't know what. It feels time to start these Morning Pages again so that I can continue to check in about what it is I want to be doing, where I want to be, and what I want to be working on next. This perpetual process never ends.
What about you? Do you journal? Have you every tried Morning Pages? I would challenge you to try the practice it for a week and see how you feel at the end. After all, a creative life is one big experiment, no? When all is said and done, gifting yourself 15 minutes to get in touch with your inner artist is a small price to pay for the incredibly precious reward of getting to vision a life that might lie ahead for you, waiting to be created.