Thursday, June 09, 2011

Creativity Seekers Encouraged to Apply

[As was the last blog entry posted here (more than a month ago), this is another column I wrote, and instead of tweaking it to fit the blog, I decided to add this blogger's note instead, and leave it as written. Please read, and then...come on along for the journey.]

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I’ve always considered this sort of an interactive column. I write, you laugh (often at my lack of writing skills, I’m guessing), and the next week we repeat.

This week, I’d like to introduce a twist. How about if I write, write, too?

Two weeks ago, I shared a few ways I try to keep my creative energy flowing, by taking photos or writing poetry or short stories. I think it’s time to kick the creativity into high gear.

Author and creativity guru Julia Cameron developed a workshop more than 20 years ago called, The Artist’s Way, which she describes as, “a course in discovering and recovering your creative self.”

Cameron’s workshop is aimed at anyone who wants to be more creative, be they painters, sculptors, crafters, photographers, writers, or musicians.

The course is 12 weeks long, and uses two basic tools for one’s creative recovery: morning pages, and artist dates.

Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done as soon as you wake in the morning.

I’ve tried to write morning pages before, sometimes in the afternoon or evening. But there must be a creative advantage to writing them in the morning, or they wouldn’t be called...morning pages.

These pages are not meant to be artistic, or even well-written. You don’t have to consider yourself a writer to write morning pages. The goal is to get your hand moving across the page, recording whatever comes to mind. Throughout the 12 weeks, no one will ever see these pages but you, so there’s no pressure for them to sound smart, although Cameron assures us that sometimes they will.

The second tool is a weekly artist date, on which you spend an hour or two alone each week, on a trip to the beach or a museum or a park, or for a walk in the woods. Or, Cameron says, your artist might like bowling.

These dates are designed to nurture your inner artist.

I have a difficult time thinking of myself as an artist, by the way, because even my stick people don’t look like stick people. But the term "artist" is a broad blanket over so many varieties of self-expression.

In the book, The Artist’s Way, each week is broken down into a chapter, in which Cameron guides us through topics of discussion and reflection, with a list of suggested tasks at the end of each chapter, and a check-in to record how many days during the week you wrote your morning pages, and thoughts on that week’s artist date.

Here’s where the community comes in. I’ve seen Artist’s Way groups formed online, to promote a sense of motivational camaraderie and help keep each artist moving through the 12-week program. And I’d like to create a group, to start and hopefully complete, our first Artist’s Way workshop.

If this sounds like a creative endeavor you’d like to attempt, please leave a comment below or contact me at the email address in the left sidebar for more information. I’d like to set up a closed group on Facebook as a gathering place for our check-ins and chapter discussions, so you’ll need a Facebook account before we begin the first week, and I’ll send each member an invitation to the group.

I’m new to this workshop myself, so we’ll be stumbling through it together the first time. I’ve known about the concept for years, but have not attempted a full 12-week session. The more artists we have working toward the goal, the better our chances (well...mine, anyway) of reaching the finish line.

My loose plan is to begin the program on July 4 (surely three scribbled morning pages won’t interfere too terribly with your holiday plans, will they?), with check-ins once a week, and morning pages as often as you can possibly write them.

So gather a notebook and a fast-writing pen, one that you’ll be comfortable holding for the next 12 weeks, and buy your copy of The Artist’s Way.

We have some creativity to wrangle!

"Art is not about thinking something up.
It is the opposite—getting something down."
—Julia Cameron