The Artist's Way Week 1: Recovering a sense of safety and The importance of Morning Pages
What is The Artist’s Way?
The Artist’s Way is a book written by Julia Cameron that takes you on a 12-week-long journey to discover and recover your creative self. This is a book that was gifted to me by my sister-in-law in 2016, and since then, I have gone through the book once every year. Coincidently, with just 12 weeks left in the year, I decided to keep the tradition going and go through the book for the fourth time. This year though, I thought I’d do something a little different and share my 12-week journey right here on the blog.
A few notes before we get started
Even though I’ve gone through The Artist’s Way a few times already, each time has been a brand new experience with even deeper revelations and another chance to feed and nurture my inner artist. Whether you call yourself an artist or not, we are all creative, and inevitably, we all experience creative blocks along the way. I see The Artist’s Way as an opportunity to “get unblocked” and tap deeper into the spirit of our artist child - the one who used to color all over the walls so freely and fearlessly.
If you’re interested in going through the book with me for the next 12 weeks, here is the link to the book. And please make sure to leave a comment here on the blog or message me on Instagram at @everleafdesigns to let me know! I’d love to do this with you.
I also want to quickly note that when I refer to the “inner artist” (a term that is used frequently in the book), I am referring to our “creative child” - the child in you who effortlessly played make believe, boldly colored outside the lines, and created with no boundaries. That child is still inside all of us, and through this journey, we are working to nurture him/her back.
Week 1: Recovering a Sense of Safety
So Week 1 is all about confronting and letting go of all the negative thoughts and beliefs that our inner artist has internalized as a result of external influences that have discouraged, criticized, or put down our creativity or thoughts around creativity. This could be in the form of a domineering parent, an over-critical art teacher, or a bully at school.
This is the week that we confront those old “monsters” or “enemies” as Julia calls them, and we start the process of replacing that doubt, fear, criticism, humiliation, and sometimes even pain, with positive memories and positive affirmations. It’s not an easy process, but it’s such an important first step in the healing journey that lies ahead of us.
For me personally, I couldn’t have properly processed a lot of those blocks and negative feelings without the practice of morning pages.
What are morning pages and why are they so important?
I shared this in a previous blog post about Rediscovering Your Inner Creative, but morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing that you do every morning after you wake up. The sole objective of this practice is to fill three pages every day, jotting down everything and anything that’s on your mind. Morning pages are a non-negotiable in this process and Julia calls them the foundation of our creative recovery.
When I committed myself to going through The Artist’s Way again, morning pages are the first thing that I implemented back into my morning routine. Since starting again two weeks ago (I haven’t been doing them consistently since April of this year), I haven’t missed a day. The past two weeks reminded me again why morning pages are so invaluable.
1. They show us what’s really going on
Years into doing morning pages, I’ve realized that morning pages are a window right into the deepest parts of my mind and soul. For the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that my pages have been full of a lot more positive feelings than they have in the past (a huge sign of growth for me), but of course, the bulk of my writing is about my worries, my stressors, my guilt, my doubt, my failures..the list of negative things go on and on.
It’s natural to find yourself writing about these things, and you might even catch yourself complaining about the pettiest things day after day. I’ve experienced this firsthand. The point though, is to get all of those things on the page - because even if things seem tiny or insignificant, the fact that you’re writing about them means that they are taking up space and bandwidth in your life.
With time, the crazy thing you’ll realize is that all of those thoughts and feelings, big or small, are part of the mental and emotional clutter that is blocking us from our inner artist. Our pages will show us what’s really going on behind the closed doors of our hearts and our minds - the good, the bad, and the ugly - and this is the first step to our creative recovery.
2. They have the power to transform us
The good news is, once we are able to identify and acknowledge those blocks, the simple act of writing can help us sort it all out. Practicing morning pages consistently will eventually lead us to do one of two things: (1) let go of the things that aren’t worth our time or stress, or (2) take action in the areas of our lives that need positive change.
“It is very difficult to complain about a situation morning after morning, month after month, without being moved to constructive action. The pages lead us out of despair and into undreamed-of solutions.” - Julia Cameron
After a few weeks or months of doing morning pages, you may find some patterns or themes emerging from your writing. For me, I saw a lot of self-criticism, doubt, and fear underlying the way I wrote about so many things in my personal life as well as my business. This realization was really eye-opening for me. It allowed me to catch myself when I started to go down that path, and it’s also been helping me to think about how I can work on shifting that mindset to a more positive one instead.
The consistent practice of morning pages can raise our awareness of the things that weigh us down, make us unhappy, and require constructive change. As long as we are willing to put in the effort, with that awareness comes action and hopefully, lasting transformation.
3. They help create more space for new things
When we actively work on clearing out the mental and emotional clutter that weighs us down, we are ultimately creating space for new experiences, new ideas, and new ways of thinking and being. Hopefully through the journey of The Artist’s Way, these new experiences are positive things that recover, restore, and nurture our inner artist.
In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be going through a bunch of exercises that will help us think about some of the things that we can potentially fill this new found space with. I’m so excited to share more as we go along.
Thanks so much for reading Week 1 of what I hope will be an encouraging 12-week series on The Artist’s Way. See you next week!