Habits that support my writing life

I enjoy writing, and words usually come fairly easily for me. (At least, they seem to in comparison to the struggles I’ve heard other people describe for their writing process.) But the last few weeks have felt really dry and flat for me as I sit down each evening to write my blog post.

I know I’ve been stressed and busy with wrapping up the semester, preparing for the holidays, getting as many items up on Etsy as possible for holiday shoppers, finishing the yard work preparations for winter, and attending holiday functions. I know that some of my struggle to find new ideas each night is simply exhaustion. But that’s not all of it.

In my exhaustion, I’ve stopped getting up extra early to write at least three pages longhand with pen and paper each morning before I go to work. I needed that extra bit of time each morning for sleep. But without those morning pages (as Julia Cameron calls them), my ability to focus on my writing has dimmed rather dramatically.

My creative work has kept the creative ideas flowing, but without my daily morning pages to process it all, I have had much less ability to focus and express myself coherently because my brain has felt too full.

Although I’ve worked through Cameron’s The Artist’s Way a couple of times over the years, I’ve never fully appreciated the value and the power of both the practice of morning pages and of artist’s play dates for my writing. My creative work for my Etsy store has become my artist’s play dates (something I’ve tended to skimp a bit on when doing the exercises in the past), but my writing here at the blog is not a substitute for my morning pages. I need both of those practices to be at my best for my public writing.

Now that I have some time off to rest and recuperate, I think my first priority needs to be re-establishing my practice of regular morning pages and finding ways to keep that a priority. Idea generation without adequate processing leads to mental chaos (at least for me).

It sure would be helpful if I could learn these kinds of lessons just from reading about them, but I seem to have a need to prove these things for myself. I do think that this inadvertent experiment has proven the validity of Julia Cameron’s method to me in a clear way. Now I just need to remember this lesson strongly enough to have the discipline to maintain the practices that support my writing life.

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