On my studio table
“We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our thoughts and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance. … We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential and grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul.” -Julia Cameron
Sometimes the creative process doesn’t necessarily happen at my work table. Sharing a few things here that help me.
Many years ago when I first started feeling the pull towards a creative life, I found a used copy of Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. As many people know, one of the most important tools she shares is the use of Morning Pages, where one gets up a bit earlier than usual and then sits down and just writes. Free form, no purpose, just let the pen move. I actually did that back then faithfully and did the other exercises in her book and I really saw changes happen. It was like putting one unsteady and uncertain foot in front of the other, until my pace became a bit more steady and a bit more sure.
You know when you need to just get all the raw emotions out, what I also call “verbal vomit” but then don’t really want to see it every time you open your book, well, I draw over it. Or sew or adhere something to cover it up. This is what I did in the above page.
My morning pages are also a place to experiment and play, something unexpected might pop up that will show up in other work. The surface for this entry came from scraps from a project I did with my 5 year old that has really gotten the cogs in my brain churning. I don’t spend a lot of time doing “visual journaling” as is seen in a lot of mixed media books and magazines. My visual creative energies are reserved for my paintings in the studio. My journals are really for writing. But I do combine imagery, mark making and writing in my journals. But it’s loose, unplanned, and often messy. I usually add a doodle, a drawing, some scribbles, a photo maybe. I am a visual person and I enjoy the process of combining words and images.
I had taken a break from journaling ever since the Great Flood of 2013 when my entire studio was detroyed in 3 feet of water and were displaced for a bit. My journals spanning years, my marriage, my pregnancies, the early years of my firstborn were completely destroyed. That was really devastating to me- even moreso than the artwork that was destroyed. It was almost like a complete wipeout of my life that I had lovingly and creatively recorded in my handbound journals. I just could not sit down and write again. It just seemed like too much effort. And really, who cares? There was a wall that I just couldn’t get over. And life was insane with moving and settling into our new home here out east. But I’m ready again. Journaling isn’t for everyone, but I have realized that it’s an important component for me to nourish myself. And for the answer to who cares? -well, I do.
I decided to do the morning pages practice again this year, not necessarily focusing on my studio practice or goals, but just a general writing practice and my personal goal of focusing on things that nourish me. Getting it all out before the day starts helps me and my mood tremendously. I get up a little earlier than usual and I get my coffee and journal and sit down at our table and write until the kids get up and come bounding down the stairs. It has really helped me begin my days in a calmer manner. Anything is better than child entering room, poking my still asleep body and asking what’s for breakfast in a too-loud-for-this-soon-in-the-morning- voice. Sometimes I make a list of things I need to accomplish that day, that week. Sometimes I just empty out on the pages. I give myself a break on the weekends as I want to sleep in a bit. My son gets up at 6:30 every morning no matter what, so sleeping in is relative.
I recently dug up an old journal from high school. Reminded me that my love affair with thread goes way back. As does the habit of writing it down.
It’s the writing that teaches you. -Isaac Asimov