Sarah Shore, MS

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The Artist's Way

A few weeks ago I was introduced to “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  While I haven’t read through the book, the message is clear. 

Your inner critic is getting in your way and preventing you from moving forward on your goals. 

While the book was written to help artists and creatives get past the internal blocks to greater productivity and creation of their art…the concepts are applicable in any line of work.  The advice is so simple and so effective that I’m going to implement it in my own life and I hope you’ll do the same. 

There are three basic tools for encouraging your creative (or productive) genius to come out.  According to Cameron, they are “simultaneously universal and individual.”  Who doesn’t love that?   

  1. Morning Pages…which provide direction on your journey
  2. Artist’s Dates…which provide inspiration
  3. Walking…which provides integration (how true!)

Let’s take “Morning Pages” to start.  Here’s the idea.  Straight from the book, “Morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness…as in “Oh god, another morning.  I have nothing to say.  I need to wash the curtains.  Did I get my laundry yesterday?  Blah, blah, blah.”  They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions.”

Here’s the idea.  Get yourself a notebook from Target or the drug store or Amazon's version.  Or, if you are feeling so inspired, get yourself a beautiful leather-bound notebook from a fancy stationary store.  Whatever you choose, you should have a decent amount of page space to write.  Sit down in the morning, preferably in a space where you can really listen to the thoughts that come up in your mind. 

You could do it while you have your morning coffee or a glass of water…or even before you get out of bed.  Start writing.  Write anything that comes to mind until you fill up three pages with your thoughts.  As Cameron says, there is no wrong way to do Morning Pages.  They are not meant to be “art” or even “writing.” 

They are just a collection of words that you are getting out of your head and onto the page.  Often, the words might sound angry or self-pitying, repetitive, or bland.  And that’s good.  That’s what you are going for.  All of this clutter in your mind is what’s preventing you from getting your creativity and your productivity into the world. 

Write until you fill three pages.  Write whatever thoughts are in your mind.  Do this every morning.  Do it for at least 8 weeks.  Or make it a life-time habit, which is what “The Artist’s Way” asks you to do.  Here’s an important point:  you are strongly discouraged from reading anything you’ve written until you have been doing Morning Pages daily for 8 weeks (I didn’t see that coming, did you?).

We are all our harshest critics.  In order to fight that critic, to hold that critic back from having a negative influence over our creativity or productivity, we need to bring all these critical statements that we make about ourselves (daily) into the light of day.  “The Artist’s Way” suggests (and I think I do agree) that the practice and discipline of Morning Pages really helps to do that in an effective and powerful way.

This is a simple tool, it’s a free tool, and it’s a powerful tool.  There are communities of believers who sing the praises of this process.  If you are looking for a daily habit to help you be more successful and more productive, I encourage you to read “The Artist’s Way” and start your Morning Pages habit now. 

A great way to keep yourself accountable and get support for implementing this new success habit in your daily life is to sign up for our next Focus Forward session.  Imagine that in just 4 weeks you could be off to a great start with this new habit that will help you to unleash your creativity (even if you are not an artist) and optimize your productivity for your maximum success.  What are you doing tomorrow morning?

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