Thursday, February 27, 2014

Your Repertoire Of Faithful Forces

The flow of creativity is the constant.

The feelings of the creator are the variable.                                                   

And if you seek to consistently generate compelling messages and work on a prolific scale as a communicator, you need better constants.

Muscles to count on, places to return to, rituals to abide by, people to confide in, rocks to anchor to, practices to rely on, structures to lean against, these routines become the repertoire of faithful forces to keep your creative life stable and fruitful when circumstances get a little too overwhelming.

I prefer vomiting.

That’s the term I use for a gasket where you purge everything that happens to you. A daily ritual of emotional release where you metabolize your experiences, make serious mental headway into your ideas and get the creative faucet flowing. A space without circumference, a private container of safety where judgment can’t enter and a free venue where ideas can run free without the scrutiny of readers, critics, editors and yourself.

Julia Cameron, author of the bestselling series The Artist’s Way, pioneered this journaling exercise twenty years ago. She called it morning pages. Here’s how it works:

First thing in the morning, even before checking email, open a blank document, either on paper or on your computer. Spew out every single thought and feeling and idea that’s running through your mind. Dreams, worries, fears, annoyances, ideas, what you did the day before, everything. Keep writing until you’ve filled up three pages. And when you’re done, feel free to save or trash the document, and then get on with your day.

Try it for a week, and you’ll quickly find that that vomiting is one of the constants you won’t be able to live without. And the best part is, there’s no one right way to do it. What matters is that you understand the science behind it as a constant. What matters is that you trust the process as a gateway to prolificacy.

In fact, it’s quite scientific.

Cameron’s field research on morning pages is extensive and clinically proven. In each of the books in her series on creativity, she shares case studies, insights and breakthroughs from readers around the world who committed to this daily ritual and saw real results.

And since I’ve devoured every book she’s ever written, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a summary of the science behind morning pages.

First, here’s what they are.

They are time outs. They are portable solitude. They are rituals of reflection. They are a form of meditation. They help you listen to yourself. They are the first check in of the day. They are the basic tools of creative unblocking. They are psychological holding environments. They are gateways to inner and higher selves. They are gripe sessions where you work out your grudges. They are moments of free association and celebration.
They are catcher’s mitts for many small ideas that lead to larger breakthroughs.

Second, here’s what they do:

Lend you stability. Prioritize your day. Keep you grounded. Give you a place to ventilate.
Give you the privacy you crave. Help you take accurate stock of your life. Provide a place to examine the many aspects of an experience. Reframe our failures into lessons learned. Galvanize your days and make you acutely attuned to your personal feelings.
Give us immediate access to creative energy, point us in the direction of our growth and make us intimate with ourselves, which allows us to be more authentically intimate with others.

Thirdly, here’s why they work:

You awaken your intuition. You must train your censor to stand aside. You get current, catch up on yourself and pinpoint precisely what you are feeling and thinking. You tap into a creative energy that flows like a subterranean river through your life. You can find out what you like and don’t like. You can report precisely and just let yourself write. You get down on the page whatever it is you are. You keep your spirit from being parched and dry. You can miniaturize irrational worries and underscore your legitimate concerns in a sorting process. You draw to your attention those areas of your life that need your focus. You discover that a little trickle of writing keeps the flow from closing down completely.

Lastly, here’s why they matter:

Morning pages are a perfect way to create off the record. There’s just something beautiful and healthy about those never before never again moments when we give ourselves permission to create off the record. To make things without the burden of evidence. It’s a helpful way to keep our creative practice balanced. And since the impulse to make things on the record is a primary characteristic of human beings, it’s liberating as hell to fight it every once in a while. Morning pages give us the freedom to follow our most impractical curiosities.

Vomiting never felt so good.

Will you add this constant to your repertoire of faithful forces?