Whose creative life hasn’t been supercharged, validated and otherwise improved by Julia Cameron’s bestselling book, The Artist’s Way? If you haven’t yet had your world rearranged by this 12-week study of artistic inspiration and productivity, make like a library and check it out.
But if you have read this book at some point in your filmmaker journey, you know it recommends two basic tools to develop and release creative work. And you probably tried both, at least during the time it took you to read the book.
So you’re still doing morning pages every day, right? And scheduling your artist date once a week? Never? Sometimes? Completely forgot about it until just now?
Yeah, we get it. But here are some reasons to reconsider how we utilize these habits in our current busy careers.
When people ask, “Why do we write morning pages?” I joke, “To get to the other side.” They think I am kidding, but I’m not. Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods. —Julia Cameron
According to Julia, the concept of Morning Pages is a seemingly pointless but nonetheless vital tool for clearing our creative channels. Once upon a time, we were on board with that. It was never easy, but we did it every day(ish) while reading the book.
But now… Waking up early? Writing three pages by hand? Between your late-night networking session and a weekend production schedule, maybe Morning Pages need a reboot. Try some of these suggestions for molding them to your way of life.
In our experience, creative unblocking is just as necessary at the end of the day as at the beginning. If mornings aren’t your scene, try lunchtime pages. Or bedtime pages. Mid-morning coffee breaks, waiting-on-hold pages. The important thing is to schedule a specific time that works for you and stick to it.
We like notebooks and pens, scrawling with abandon across a clean white page. But if you prefer a digital platform, we’ve enjoyed 750words.com to track pages every day, or you can simply type yourself an email. You can even verbalize your “pages” with voice memos.
3. Page count
Does it have to be three? Who knows. But if you’re stuck for things to write, the key is to avoid over-thinking. Simply write what you see, what you smell, the lyrics to the song on the radio, or what you had for lunch. Just keep the pen moving. Those trivial reminiscences really do lead to deeper revelations. Promise.
That’s what Morning Pages do – allowing your brain to sort foggy bits of thought, emotion, and intention into more manageable insights. Literally relocating internal clutter that you don’t even notice in order to discover what’s lurking underneath. The way in which you do it is less important than the plain practice of just doing it.
Your artist needs to be taken out, pampered, and listened to. There are as many ways to evade this commitment as there are days of your life. “I’m too broke,” is the favored one, although no one said the date need involve elaborate expenses. —Julia Cameron
Artist dates were originally conceived as a weekly commitment of two hours each, in which we plan a special ‘date’ for our inner artists, to listen to our creative instincts and be present. The date itself is meant to change from week to week, but generally it revolves around purely pleasurable experiences: lingering over a cup of coffee and a good book, walking around a garden, or maybe visiting a museum.
But taking two hours out of the week solely for self-nurturing is not just putting time toward yourself, it is taking time away from your film. It can be really difficult to commit, no matter how great the psychological benefit. Here are some ideas to get back into the habit.
If dedicating a two hour block of artistic indulgence is daunting to your current work/life balance, try breaking it down into shorter spans and spread it around. Scatter four half-hour sessions throughout the week. Carry a good book (like The Artist’s Way!) around with you and grab 15 minutes of peaceful reading here or there.
Maybe this is cheating, but we’ve all had those weeks when taking time away from a project can actually hurt it. So take your phone calls at the beach. Make your spreadsheets at a rooftop bar (with a cocktail). Bring some work with you on this artist date!
For freelancers, writers and indie producers who are still building their team, your creative life is already lived solo most of the time. If the idea of doing one more thing by yourself holds little appeal, we think it’s okay to invite a friend. As long as it’s someone you really, really, really like.
Keep a list of places you enjoy or want to see, and the experiences you love. Look out for new things coming to your neighborhood—stores opening, special gallery displays, book signings. When the time for your artist date rolls around, you won’t be at a loss for what to do.
You are more than a thing-making machine. You are an artistic soul that requires refreshing and releasing—increasingly so as you depend on your creativity to earn a living. Just like oil and coolant in a healthy engine, Artist Dates and Morning Pages help maintain your creative energy for a thriving film career.