Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
Unlocking Creativity by Just Showing Up

I have to admit this book made me a little uncomfortable when I first started reading it.

The motherly, nurturing, psyscho-babble-esque tone made me want to hurl. I didn't want this book to help me. I wanted to help this book into the fireplace.

But several friends who had been impressed and inspired by it waxed rhapsodically about it. So I pressed on and tried writing 'Morning Pages' as Cameron suggests:

Every morning, set your clock one-half hour early; get up and write three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness morning writing. Do not reread these pages or allow anyone else to read them. Ideally, stick these pages in a large manila envelope, or hide them somewhere. Welcome to the morning pages. They will change you.

I tried this technique, and I can attest that it works. I learned how to write songs and music by starting with morning pages six days a week to open the creative space for myself. Just the act of sitting down to write regularly takes the fear out of doing it.

Turns out that Woody Allen was right. 90% of life Is Just Showing Up. Writing is about showing up and putting pen to paper. Do it enough and you will write something. Do it a lot more and you will write something good. The morning pages operate like priming a creative pump. You get the flow going, and sooner or later, something of substance will arrive.

There are also some other techniques in there that are helpful, especially if you tend to fight your self doubt as an artist.

Check it out:

Advancing Guitar Lessons: Washington, D.C.
Professional Musical Fun for Beginners and Beyond


Brian said...

I was going to make some comment about the musician's lifestyle -- when Dan wakes up to do his "Morning Pages" he's actually slept so late that he's writing for the day before -- but I decided against it.

Seriously though, it's nice to read about writing songs, which doesn't get nearly as much attention as other topics in music education.

I'd be interested to hear some of your comments on matching up lyrics with music. Which comes first? Do you write one specifically for the other, or do you just pair up ones that you've developed independently?

Anonymous said...

Since we've all been subjected to Dr. Cohn's stream-of-consciousness nightly ravings, I'm curious about the content of his morning writings (even if it is past noon when he writes them)!

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