“Writing rewards practice. Writing rewards attention. Writing, like sex with the right partner, remains a gateway to greater mystery, a way to touch something greater than ourself. Writing is an act of cherishing, it is an act of love: I love this and this and this.” – Julia Cameron
Julia Cameron introduced me to morning pages years ago in her book, The Artist’s Way (1992). Write three handwritten pages every day. To me this type of writing means to unload the creative unconscious and all the interference and static that percolates our mind and emotions. No editing, punctuation, or inner critic editor necessary. How liberating it is to be free and wild on the page (slang for writing). Free association, some days my crankiness, longing and desire flows. Other times it is my resistance, joy, exuberance, or memories. At one point I realized I wasn’t being brave or bold enough to write some things, but the very act of giving myself permission opened inquiry and dialogue within my best and the not-so-good parts of myself.
For decades now I’ve filled pages. Three sticks in my head as the measure. I must discipline myself to a minimum of three pages, prefer ink, and thick smooth unlined paper or journals. I don’t use the computer for this type of writing, and value the kinetic association with hand to pen to page. Some days I write so swiftly I abbreviate and scribble. Other times, small perfectly formed calligraphy emerges. A poem, haiku, dream, or curiosity—there is an opening on a blank page for everything to show up.
A friend in Vancouver, BC, who is a gifted energy healer and somatic body worker suggested that after I write, I read out loud what I’ve written. This is so interesting—my words are mirrored back to me in a new way, somatically experienced, and perhaps a new thought or sensation emerges.
My favorite Julia Cameron book to date is The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life (1998). So many creative openings occurred in the months I explored her process in the book. I went to the shelf today and found the book just now. Dog-eared—and it appears a dog also chewed on it—I dated it October 6, 2001, in the first page by my name, claiming it as mine. Quotes I’d written in front still speak:
“If you keep writing, you’ll publish. If you keep focusing on publishing, you won’t write” (132).
“At its root, procrastination is an instrument in fantasy” (225).
“Honesty, observation, and imagination are the staples” (15).
“So much of what is missing is tenderness. When we commit our thoughts to paper, we send a strong and clear message that what we are writing about and whom we are writing to matters” (97).
My son’s seventh grade school photo was tucked between a writing exercise, “Honesty: initiation tool” and a new chapter “Vulnerability.” This quote jumped from the page to me today, “Using language there are a hundred different ways to excavate our buried truths, to arrive at difficult knowing. … when we arrive at internal honesty, internal clarity, it becomes far easier to take external actions” (144).
I’d circled a section in the table of contents titled “Being An Open Channel” and written important. I found Cameron’s words in that section speak to me again:
“And so it is, nearly 20 years later, that I find myself passing on the advice that gave me so much freedom: let something, or somebody, or writing itself write through you. Step aside and let the creativity or the Great Creator, or as my sister calls it, the Great Author, do its work through you. In other words, cooperate, don’t seek to coopt the power that can enter the world through your hand” (130).
I’ve certainly learned to trust this experience of writing through me, and think this partially explains Inked, this odd blog I’ve committed to write this spring.
Dozens of creative exercises in this book inspire a revisit during these days when I am listening to openings and opportunity, and visioning into the future. It would be fun to find my journal from when I did do all these exercises and contrast my responses now, 12 plus years later. This photograph contains two handwritten pages from exercises that were tucked in the back of the book from 2002. I only write my morning pages a few days a week now—and I long to begin writing again. Cameron opens me to wildness, the page, fidelity to practice, and life experience, which all generates flow.
Reflect: Find a quiet place, and give yourself 15 minutes or more. You need a pen and at least three pieces of paper. Write the date at the top of page one. Then, begin writing. Don’t stop, don’t edit, don’t think, don’t reflect. Simply flow onto the page. Stop at three pages. If you get stuck midway, write, help me become aware what to write, allow me to write, I am writing, I am writing, I am writing…”
When you finish, sit quietly and breathe in, and out. Then read aloud what you wrote. What surprises you? Make note of that insight. Then, tuck your pages away, or burn them. Give thanks to the wisdom within you in words of your own choosing.