The Artist's Way - Starts Sunday, May 7 (in progress)
posted April 10, 2023 5:58 AM   RSS | iCal | +googleCal

Sun June 11 at 8:00 PM
Hi everyone! Last summer, a handful of us here at Metafilter completed Julia Cameron's classic creativity program, The Artist's Way. It's a 12-week program designed to help you connect to your inherent sense of creativity, be more productive, and build your enjoyment and confidence in artistic work (whether it's writing, music, visual arts, or just simply living a more artistic life). danabanana and I are revisiting the program this year and we'd love your company, whether you're a first-timer or someone looking to try it again. Please join us for gentle accountability, occasional grousing, and weekly revelations about the artistic journey. All are welcome! (If you are discovering this thread already in progress, come on in!)
If you're just finding this thread, hello! It's still a good time to begin -- several of us are on different weeks and there are many common threads throughout, so you'll fit right in. Join us!


You'll need a book: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's typically about $6 used and $18ish new. Otherwise the program is free.

Doing this with others makes it a lot more fun. You can check out last year's post and progress here.

This year's hosts are danabanana and mochapickle.
posted by mochapickle to Online (115 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, YAY!! Hi, Guys! I'm so glad to be doing this again. I never expected anyone else would want to do it so soon, but it was such a good experience for me, and I've missed you all. Can't wait to begin <3
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 8:19 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]

Hi everyone! I had a great experience with this last year -- I'd tried the program several times before but it just never seemed to connect with me. Last summer, I discovered that it's much better to do this with a group, and it's also good to just... take a generally loose approach. Some weeks would really resonate with me and I'd spend a lot of time with the material (or parts of the material), while some weeks I'd be just fine reading the chapter once and doing the morning pages and calling it good.

From the vantage of a year later, I can say that the practice of the morning pages has been particularly helpful. I struggle a lot with focus, and the daily practice of sitting down and writing three pages every morning (cup of tea, dog sleeping on my foot) has been really centering and productive. It took the whole summer to fully embrace and adopt the habit and now it's a thing I can't live without. Also, my handwriting has greatly improved. (Some people type their pages, that is perfectly fine.)

And I've also gotten more confident with wanting to try new things and writing/creating more for the sheer pleasure of it. I used to get caught up in the end goal or and worry about what might happen 17 steps ahead, but now everything feels more experimental, more about enjoying the process. Everything feels a bit more fun and bright.

This year, I have some writing projects underway but I'm also hoping to return to watercolor and handlettering.

I hope you'll all join us. If you complete the book, that's terrific. If you begin and decide it's not for you, that's also a positive thing because it means you've found a deeper understanding of what does or does not work for you.
posted by mochapickle at 8:25 AM on April 10 [4 favorites]

And welcome back, probably not that Karen Blair! Yay!
posted by mochapickle at 8:26 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

I have always wanted to do this and peer pressure is exactly what I need to get me started! I'm in and feeling good about it. Thank you mochapickle!
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:13 AM on April 10 [4 favorites]

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to be a part of this group doing this project! I just read last year's thread and it was very enlightening and amusing, with lots of "Oh yeah, I forgot about that!"s. We had a great group, and we each took so much from the program and supported one another very well. I am looking forward to soaking up the goodness of the collaborative side of this creative process!

I have made morning pages part of my life since last year, and if that were the only benefit, that would be fine! But many of the exercises and tasks and essays are really helpful and enlightening (some are not for me) and the feeling of completing a 12-week creative course is tremendous.

And that brings up an important point about The Artist’s Way and Julia Cameron: the program and its author can be infuriating or annoying or problematic at times. What we learned last year is to take what you need from the book and leave the rest behind. And also maybe, if something is making you uncomfortable, why might that be? That's a potential topic for your morning pages or a cathartic rant in this space.

Welcome to everyone preparing for this wonderful journey of introspection and growth! I look forward to saying YAY to your accomplishments and BOO when things get bumpy!
posted by danabanana at 11:54 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

Welcome mygothlaundry! I hope you have fun with this!

Hi probably not that Karen Blair! It will be fun to be on the same week at the same time!
posted by danabanana at 11:58 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

Hi everybody! Thank you mochapickle for starting this !! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed doing this with you all last year even though I couldn’t finish many exercises. Writing the morning pages helped me a lot but somehow I stopped writing after a while. I’m super excited and can’t wait to join you all in this wonderful journey :))
posted by SunPower at 3:24 PM on April 11 [3 favorites]

I’ve been looking to try this. Thanks for the boost!
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:30 PM on April 11 [4 favorites]

Yes, I'm so in! I've made a couple false starts and I know a group will be really helpful!
posted by mmmbacon at 7:21 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]

Last year, I saw the thread but I couldn't commit to the time or energy. But I bought the book and it's been sitting on my desk for months. So this year, I'm gonna join you all and I'm glad to be able to share the experience with others.
posted by johnxlibris at 2:19 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]

Welcome to everyone who has shown up and is giving this a try!

Good to see you again, SunPower!

Bunglegirl, mmmbacon, and johnxlibris: thanks for joining! I look forward to getting to know you better through this process!
posted by danabanana at 2:39 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]

I'd like to take part, I'm really keen to make space in my life for a little more creativity. I restarted morning pages during 2020 and I've been doing them pretty consistently since then but none of the other parts of the book ever stuck. Actually I don't think I've ever made it as far as the second half of the book. Maybe this time! Thanks danabanana and mochapickle.
posted by happyfrog at 4:12 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]

I'm grateful someone has started this up. I'm in a (relatively) new city and don't have a local friend group that I know well enough to suggest this to, but I've been thinking about it for months. I've only recently started going back to museums and indoor cultural spaces, and that's led me to get out my camera and, of course, the frustrations of finding a routine and a practice have come along with it. I miss hte routine of morning pages as I've been getting back into a routine of morning running, and the conflict between those things and a limited amount of time in a day has kept me stgnant. Three cheers for gentle group effort and accountability!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:23 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]

Welcome happyfrog! It's great that you have experience with the book and have a morning pages practice already! That's a fundamental part of the process and now all you have to do is some exercises/tasks and artist dates and you'll be through the book in no time. Well, in 12 weeks that will sometimes seem like forever...

Welcome late afternoon dreaming hotel! The group dynamic is so important that there's a chapter about it after the 12 weeks section. I know I would never be able to do it without both the accountability and the space to vent! It sounds like you have some great artist date material! I'm looking forward to hearing about your visits to fun places!

I'm so excited to see more people showing interest! It's going to be a great group!
posted by danabanana at 12:03 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]

Oh, wonderful! I have tried TAW a few times on my own but have never made it past morning pages. I look forward to working through this with the gentle support of a group. Thanks for the motivation and organisation mochapickle and danabanana!
posted by lulu68 at 4:13 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]

Yay you, lulu68! It's great that you are giving TAW another chance! Welcome to the group!
posted by danabanana at 12:21 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]

Going to join in as much as I am able (I know there will be a week or two when it might not be possible). Ordered the book, as the last time I started reading it, it was from the library. I have set aside a notebook for morning pages as I found that it didn’t work well for me in my “real” journal.
posted by ugf at 12:50 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]

That totally works, ugf. Last year, we were on different chapters from the very beginning and it still worked really well. I repeated chapters when I wanted more time, I'm pretty sure I skipped a chapter I didn't love, others I just sort of took the time I felt I needed, and we all ended up more or less within shouting distance of each other.
posted by mochapickle at 11:03 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]

Thanks for leading this! I am curious.

I've wondered what morning pages are for a long time and now I (sort of) know. The bit I don't totally understand is the bit about not rereading what you write in that time. I can totally see the need to barf out your small worries into an oubliette, but when it comes to pragmatic things like to-do lists, I feel like I would actually just keep worrying about what I put in the oubliette and then literally forgot. Can anyone comment on this? Is this just a me problem?
posted by eirias at 4:41 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Hi folks, hope to be there. Just ordered a copy. I haven’t made any significant amount of art after my PhD (and a bereavement) knocked it out of me about ten years ago, so it would be nice to have a way to engage with it again without pressure. I’ll be there if I can.
posted by aesop at 5:03 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Hello everyone!

Thank you for organizing this! It felt very serendipitous to see this on metafilter - one of my goals this year is to start writing, and just this past week I was looking for some kind of structure/group to work on that with.

I feel like I'm coming at this a bit in reverse - I'm a visual artist and drawing is a very natural way to communicate for me, and I'm generally pretty comfortable with other creative things... with the glaring exception of writing, which has always felt like pulling out teeth. The things I try to say feel awkward and untrue as soon as I put them down in words (and even writing a simple post like this is difficult for me haha.) But I have the sense it would be very freeing to learn to enjoy writing, and I hope to figure that out with this program!
posted by limnerent at 10:33 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Hi! Welcome everyone!

I'm counting this week as Week 0 and spending a little time with the pages before Chapter 1 -- the introduction, principles, and tools. It's about 25 pages altogether (not sure if editions vary) but it's helpful to read it in advance and give it some air before the program officially begins. I'll start Chapter 1 on Sunday.

I'm curious to see others' ideas but my method is to mark my morning pages whenever I want to reference something later. So if there's something I'll need from that page, I'll draw a star on the top right corner of the page and then I'll bracket the specific text, and sometimes I'll add stars next to the text depending on how excited I am about the idea. Big idea = lots of stars! I never read the morning pages as a whole but I do go back to look for starred material.
posted by mochapickle at 11:22 AM on May 1 [5 favorites]

Welcome to everyone!

eirias: I suppose this is a bit of a spoiler, but we write morning pages without looking at them for a few weeks and then one week a task is to read the morning pages. Some people love this and others don't do it. It's up to you!

aesop: I hope you will be able to find the time to do this with us!

limnerent: All the writing can be revelatory! And I have posting anxiety myself and I enjoy the support from this group!

mochapickle: Great plan for Week 0! And thanks for sharing your method for using your morning pages!

I am so very excited to start this process once again!
posted by danabanana at 1:40 PM on May 1 [4 favorites]

Hello, hey, hi -

I'm new to this website but I'm interested in TAW and so I've steamrolled into getting an account and buying a copy of the book and even writing this introduction. I'm looking forward to working alongside you all!

I just recently learned about the morning pages (in passing, from someone's blog) and they've been good to me so far. They have been a valuable part of my morning routine in the past few weeks; I want to nurture that into something more.
posted by MeadowlarkDoctrine at 8:07 PM on May 1 [5 favorites]

I saw this in the sidebar and usually I agonize over whether to commit to anything for a really long time, but as it happens, I'm in the middle of trying to do a few things differently in my life right now. So I guess the conditions were just right for me to decide to do this and order the book in the space of about 5 minutes, 'cause that's what I did. Looking forward to joining you all!
posted by valrus at 9:16 PM on May 1 [3 favorites]

Welcome to MeFi and welcome to the group, MeadowlarkDoctrine! It's great that you are already doing morning pages! You will definitely go deeper with the rest of the program!

Yay for sidebar-related impulses, valrus! It is very serendipitous that your schedule lines up with the program timeline! Welcome!
posted by danabanana at 11:13 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]

Hi everyone!
I’m going to just dive in— I’ve known about this book for years first time to actually try it out.
Thanks for the companionship in this project—
I do need this right now!
posted by calgirl at 1:29 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

I saw this in the sidebar and I'd really like to participate! I did for a long time which is inspired by morning pages, but I've never actually done The Artist's Way in its original form. How does it work--we just do what the book says and then post in this thread every week as we go through it?
posted by Tesseractive at 10:14 PM on May 2 [2 favorites]

Basically, yes. Mochapickle posted last year’s thread up top so you can have a look at how we did it. It felt very supportive to have gentle accountability—very gentle—and even better to feel heard in our challenges and successes. I don’t think there was a single one of us who loved every part of the book, or even all the same parts.* It was just very validating to be able to say that out loud in a safe place. It made it possible to keep going and keep growing, even after you’d thrown the book at the wall. In the end I find I am still benefitting from that experience and looking forward to doing it again.

oh. also, you don’t /have/ to post every week. it’s up to you. many people didn’t.

*It IS a great book, but Julia Cameron is just a person, after all. As the saying goes, take what you can use and leave the rest.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 6:04 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]

I agree! I think at the very least, you should:

- Read the chapter for the week
- Do the morning pages as often as you can, with a goal of making it a daily or near-daily practice
- Do some sort of artist date once a week, even if it's something very simple like breakfast on your porch

And then however else you opt to engage (or not engage) with the week's material is fully up to you. Last year, after making an attempt every few years to follow the book to the letter, I found that improvising and even rebelling from some of the instructions made the overall experience all the more useful to me. This year I'll probably do more of the tasks/exercises I skipped over last year.

Commenting here is optional, but we want people to feel comfortable to do so. Like probably not that Karen Blair, I found the community to be very gentle, and I gained so much from reading about others' experiences and interpretations.
posted by mochapickle at 5:25 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]

oh hello! I did some of this with a group end of last year/early this year - got to about Week 10, then life became pretty chaotic (in a good way but still a LOT) so I haven't finished it. I did follow along with last year's thread as I was doing it which was fun!

Working on it was a weird time - I had spent most of 2022 at that point waylaid due to Covid and wanted to get back into something creative, then literally during Week 2 caught Covid again from my first gig in ages. It was during the chapters were Julia was all like "WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE IN THE GOD THAT WANTS YOU TO CREATE" so I got pretty angry at her and TAW and thought "well this God doesn't seem to want me to create because this is the second damn time I got The Plague from something artistic!" (The first time was a rehearsal) I'm not sure I've gotten any answers on that front, but it did spur me to actually get into VTubing after waffling about it for a while, so there you go.

I don't know if I'll revisit it (see above paragraph) but I might check in with this thread anyway :)
posted by creatrixtiara at 1:52 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]

mochapickle: I'd love to hear more about how you rebelled on the exercises!
posted by creatrixtiara at 1:56 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]

Like mochapickle, I started reading the pages before the Chapter 1. While reading the basic tools section, I realized how much the Censor( the nasty internal and external critic) that Cameron talks about has influenced my whole life during good/bad times.

I cannot write the morning pages right out of bed like Cameron says. I am more comfortable having my coffee, exercise and other morning chores done before sitting peacefully to write .

So, I decided to start writing my morning pages today as I woke up with a bad mood and had to get it out of my system. Felt good dumping all my anger, worries and other things in my mind into the morning pages.
posted by SunPower at 7:18 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]

Oh goodness, creatrixtiara... Like sometimes I'd get to the end of a chapter I wasn't connecting to and every exercise was like, "Write a letter to your pinky toe about your favorite vacation..." and I'd just be like, WHATEVER JULIA, and happily close the chapter without another thought.

Sometimes I wouldn't read the chapter until Wednesday or Thursday. Sometimes I'd start morning pages and stop after a page and a half, or repeat a chapter, or get deeply annoyed by parts that felt irrelevant or desperately out of touch (and there are some dazzling examples). There was one point about a month in where I had persistent, vaguely menacing fantasies about throwing a live raccoon at her? It's a blur.

I guess I'm mentioning all this because I attempted and abandoned TAW many (many!) times over the years, and every time I'd buckle myself into it with a five-point harness and take it Very Seriously and have Very Concrete Goals and do everything by the letter, even (and especially) the parts I wasn't feeling. So last year, I just made it enjoyable, treated the book as food for thought instead of something I'd be graded on, and it was a much better experience overall, and ultimately a great pleasure. At least for me.
posted by mochapickle at 2:18 PM on May 4 [12 favorites]

Best comment ever, mochapickle!!! 100000 favorites!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 2:26 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

Ok I'm in. I remember doing the morning pages thing long ago, and I'm keen on getting back to non-academic writing.
posted by dhruva at 3:40 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]

I'm so very in! Yay!
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:16 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]

Excellent, dhruva! It's great that you have experience with morning pages!

Welcome, palmcorder_yajna! Yay!

To everyone thinking about joining, we start tomorrow and we would love to have you!

And another welcome to all who have commented that they will give this a try! I hope everyone has a wonderful experience!
posted by danabanana at 10:53 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]

I've had this book forever and have never given it a go! Although I am coming at it from a natural skeptic's position and I hit the first page and I just want to comment on how the passage of time has completely changed how we define artists and art, both in where artists are supposed to live and look like and do and the value we place on artistic creation. But perhaps that is for the pages?
posted by kingdead at 7:41 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]

I did my very first Morning Pages today. It wound up uncovering slightly more interesting cruft than I expected. Hunh. Looking forward to how this plays out.

I read the preface/etc yesterday and today. When are we meant to read Chapter 1? Also today?
posted by eirias at 8:11 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]

I think we're meant to read chapter 1, and take the following week to do the tasks and the artist date. Morning pages every day.
posted by dhruva at 10:20 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]

Hi everyone! Welcome to Week One! I'm just getting started and will be reading Chapter 1 later today.

kingdead, I remember that part! It makes me celebrate how much more accessible art and artmaking and creativity have become since this was originally published in... 1992. Everything felt so regimented and specialized back then.

And hello, eirias! The introduction/principles/tools and Chapter 1 together weigh in at about 50 pages in my edition (the whole book is 225ish), so that's kind of a lot to read in a day or two. Especially as JCameron has her own... uh, style and vernacular and a very particular point of view. So if you're opening the book for the first time today, feel free to take your time with it. Maybe read the intro sections today and then read Chapter 1 tomorrow or Tuesday. I think it's more important to be in an open frame of mind than on a set schedule. Sometimes a week takes nine days.

How you use this thread is up to you! Last year, it became a spot for the weekly check-in, but we can use it for chatting, ideas, whatever you like! We'll likely end up on different weeks at some point, so we'll keep this thread open indefinitely.
posted by mochapickle at 10:47 AM on May 7 [3 favorites]

I am using the The Artist's Way Workbook (it's what was available on Overdrive) and really loved this snippet re: morning pages (edited excerpt).
My pages are often grumpy. I use them to vent. In my pages I tell the universe what I don’t like and what I do.

Morning pages are a witness to our passage and they are a cheerleader for our efforts. “It’s great that I got to the park yesterday.” Occasionally, morning pages are the seedbed for new creative ideas. “Wouldn’t it be fun to write a musical about Merlin?”

Morning pages make us known to ourselves. They map our many contradictory urges.
Morning pages make us intimate with ourselves, and this, in turn, allows us to become more intimate with others.

posted by spamandkimchi at 4:52 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]

Hello? Anyone around? Don’t know if there’s a chat or a meeting I’m supposed to join, sorry.
posted by aesop at 4:54 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

Hi aesop! We're just communicating through this thread asynchronously, so there's no formal meeting. (The IRL page makes you set an event time.)
posted by mochapickle at 4:57 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

Got it, sorry!
posted by aesop at 5:03 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

No sorry needed! Glad you are here!
posted by mochapickle at 5:04 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

Welcome, spamandkimchi! Thanks for sharing the words about morning pages! It's all so very true!

aesop, this thread is our checking in space. You can post questions like you just did or share your experiences as you go along. Some folks will post a check-in at the end of the week summarizing how things went, but we also pop in here to vent or celebrate or whatever. Thanks for your question! I hope this clears things up for you and whoever else might be confused.

Happy week 1 day 1!

[On preview, what mochapickle said...]
posted by danabanana at 5:04 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

Got up and did my morning pages this morning. Even on Day 1, I felt like I cracked something open just a tiny bit. It was the question: "what type of artist do I want to be?" I don't consider myself an artist (and I realize undoing this mode of thinking is the entire point of Chapter 1), though I've often wanted to pursue something more creative. So where should I go? Writing? Photography? Music? My liberal arts education gave me enough of a footing to follow any of those paths, but do I need to choose in order to make this 12-week experience work? Probably not, but that anxiety lingers. Happy Day 1, everyone!
posted by johnxlibris at 5:31 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

Thanks folks, I appreciate the welcome. Guess I could share that I’ve been joining some insight with morning pages to some other stuff that concerns me in my life. Specifically anxiety about work performance- I get pretty hung up. Might have some sort of undiagnosed attention-something, because I usually freeze up whenever there are more than 2 or 3 things on the go at once & the usual impostor worries I think most folks have. Anyway I’ve been looking through my creative strengths and how they are kind of darkly mirrored by the work anxiety (in my creative time I ping all over the place in different disciplines). Anyway morning pages got me joining that up with the peacefulness I’ve seen settle on certain friends as they experience parenthood; and though I’m probably fantasizing or projecting or something, I thought there was something to the fact of settled commitment to a responsibility, that I could wish for. I can’t really join the dots here without writing an essay, but it made me think that I could try to create a peaceful diligence that might let me slow down and just work honestly, rather than in a sense of guilty procrastination. Perhaps doing enough, is enough?
posted by aesop at 5:40 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

I just came across this website where the book is available to read online for free if anyone who wants to join but doesn’t have the book.
posted by SunPower at 6:58 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

Unfortunately I haven't received the book yet, but I did pages this morning. It wasn't revelatory but I do think it helped get my thoughts in order for the day!
posted by valrus at 7:56 AM on May 8 [2 favorites]

SunPower you're a genius! I did some digging and that site has both the full book and the accompanying workbook in PDF form. The full book has the essays and readings.

Full Book

Thank you!
posted by mochapickle at 8:26 AM on May 8 [3 favorites]

I got so mad about the whole morning pages thing that I worked myself into a whole state of righteous indignation and that made me think, oh, interesting, this has really touched a nerve. What's going on here? I haven't answered that yet and I'm still mad, but today I did in fact write three pages of cranky miserable whining complaints.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:51 AM on May 8 [6 favorites]

I managed to make morning pages work on a school day. Got all three done just before Little e came down for piano practice. That’s something.

I’m hoping to use this to unblock not traditional artistic creativity (I don’t often think of myself that way) but scientific creativity. I’ve been in a rut for a few years for Reasons and it would be nice to feel some purpose in it again. But I gather that there’s a stochastic element to what comes out of this journey!
posted by eirias at 11:31 AM on May 8 [4 favorites]

The timing didn't work out for me last year, but in the preceding discussion I mentioned having done TAW "maybe a dozen years ago." Upon reflection, it must have been longer ago than that, though: more like fifteen or sixteen years? Anyway, at the time I knew a few no-nonsense people who'd found it helpful despite rolling their eyes at a lot of the Julia Cameron silliness, so I gave it a try. And as it turned out, it really did help me with a specific goal.

Since I was seven or eight until fairly recently I did something roughly like "morning pages." Not formal journals, not at a specified time of day, but I was constantly writing stuff down on any convenient surface, basically out of habit. Plus I lived by myself for most of my adult life, and was constantly haring off to do random interesting things on my own, ie roughly an "artist's date" in TAW-speak. At some point in the last five years or so, both of those things stopped. The pandemic was only one of many big changes (job environment changed, got married, lost a parent, moved a bunch of times). Somewhere in there the non-stop general commentary and capricious solo excursions wound down. So I was really glad to learn that you all were planning another round of this.

I don't know what happened to my old copy of the book, so a couple of weeks ago I picked up the new edition as an ebook. I skimmed the first few chapters and wow, my heart sank. Of course I'd remembered that there was God and New Age magic talk in there, but I'd forgotten just how much. It's daunting. I've never responded well to that sort of thing. How did I cope the first time around? Maybe that stuff was more pervasive in the culture back then, so it didn't seem so conspicuous?

Even so. The method worked for me last time, and right now there's another project I'm kind of stuck on. So with some frank misgivings and resistance, I'm giving it what Mr Tangerine Man likes to call "a red-hot go."

I won't necessarily be doing pages in the morning. They might have to be "lunchtime pages." Also I'll be travelling for a few weeks in there; I'm not sure how that'll work out. But I'm glad to have resumed daily spew-writing and weekly excursions. Even if that's all I manage to do, I look forward to some companionship along the way.
posted by tangerine at 3:58 PM on May 8 [6 favorites]

Decided to make an “anonymous” YouTube channel (which I won’t be sharing). It will feature like 20 minute kind of terrible modular bleep bloop noise jams, and possibly voiceovers doing dada ramblings in weird voices. This started off as being just a way to archive the jams but why not just go nuts? It’s not as if I’m trying to do this as a job.

I don’t know what it’s got to do with anything but it sure feels like I got the crayons out and am about to make a hell of a mess in a way I am not entirely unhappy to do. I’ve done a couple of livestreams so far. It is total nonsense but also sort of fun. I should add I am giving myself permission to just be bad at it, not really critiquing it, just letting it hang out a bit.
posted by aesop at 5:59 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]

Hello! I ordered the ebook last week, and then we went out of town for the weekend and got food poisoning, which we are still recovering from, but I am starting the book today and will start morning pages in the morning!
posted by needlegrrl at 5:59 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]

In full solidarity with mygothlaundry, I've horked up some cranky miserable whining complaints of my own.
posted by tangerine at 8:00 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]

People who've done it before: has it helped? and if so, in what way?
posted by dhruva at 8:24 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]

I'm completely sold on the morning pages lol. Something about the parameters being pages filled and not time spent writing really appeals.

Sometimes they start really stilted and then I get into a groove. Today I just wrote a review of the last book I read. It was nice drilling down into the text without feeling any of the pressure of a potential audience. Three pages of incoherent exclamations and now maybe my pitch will be better the next time someone asks for a reading recommendation.

The funniest part of all of this is that I've now got a 19 day streak (!) on the NYTimes crossword. I've felt a lot more curious about the world lately and I've been much more inclined to slow down and sit with things in a way that I haven't done in a long time.
posted by MeadowlarkDoctrine at 8:40 AM on May 9 [2 favorites]

The first time I did this was 20 years ago this year, and within two years I applied to, was accepted, and completed an art school program. Morning pages and the concept of refilling one’s well have stuck with me all this time. Excited to start again.
posted by annathea at 2:06 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

Hello everyone. Thanks, mochapickle, for initiating this. I’m happy to be here.

Lately, I’ve been feeling more and more like most things in life are just Not That Deep. I feel like most things should be pretty straightforward and just not that big a deal; no drama. This first chapter, however, feels pretty deep. I got all sorts of fEeLiNgS. : )

So I’m glad to be here. It’s scary to articulate stuff, but I hope I make some good, true paintings out of this process.

On a related note, for the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with acrylic pouring. I usually layer my paints in a cup and pour but I don’t always have great control over the amount and pace of the pouring. Either my hand trembles or my arm shakes and I can’t always get a consistent pour. So I bought some eye droppers to see if I could control the flow that way and tried it this morning, but all I got was a mushy mess of colors. So something to work on.
posted by gt2 at 5:45 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

Well after 45 minutes of searching and eventually running my finger along the spine of every book on every bookshelf I own, I found my copy and finished reading the pages before Chapter 1. Once again, and like some other commenters so far, I found it hard to connect to the idea of God or creative life force, but there were two sidebar comments that nearly got me there, both from musicians - Stephane Grappelli: "Great improvisers are like priests. They are thinking only of their god," and Louis Armstrong: "What we play is life."

There was one other quote that resonated, and I think it's because the past few years, after a breakup, social isolation (government-mandated and self-imposed), followed by a dramatic rise in interest rates and my mortgage repayments, a return to scrimping and saving, and a consciousness that wealth inequality is getting worse and the ladders I used (discounted university education, adequate unemployment payments, penalty rates etc) to reach even this ambiguous level of financial stability have been pulled up -- anyway, all of that is to say I've had a parsimonious, lonely existence the last few years. So the quote from Brenda Ueland on page 4, "Why should we all use our creative power...? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money" also struck a chord of... ambition? in me.
posted by happyfrog at 1:56 AM on May 11 [7 favorites]

Did my first morning pages today. Ooof, I wish I’d known there was a huge amount of pre-week 1 reading and I would have gotten started earlier. I found myself saying “yeah yeah, blah blah” while reading the first parts. Between the God stuff and the many many ways the author says the same thing over and over again, I got pretty annoyed. A big part of it is I don’t like the idea that I'm a conduit for a greater power, and that something else is working through me. That may be a bridge too far for me, even when you leave out god it still is all about something outside yourself. I read a meditation book recently, recommended by a friend, and felt the same way. Maybe I just have a natural aversion to “self help” type of writing?

How do you all keep track of all of the tasks? It is quite a list. Are you going back and re-reading that page, taking on one a day, etc?
posted by Bunglegirl at 2:40 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]

Week 1, Day 6

Bunglegirl, I hear you about the God stuff (and the new age-y style) and it was definitely a bridge too far for me in previous attempts. But! Last year, I found a syllogism that seemed to wrap up what JFC is trying to say with, like, 90% less woo:

- The universe is a force of movement and change.
- I am part of the universe.
- Therefore, I am a force of movement and change.

And then whenever Julia went off on a particularly insistent tangent about God, I'd just turn the volume on her down to like a 2 and move on. I started thinking of myself as bobbing along in a cosmic ocean, the stars indistinguishable from their reflections on the water, where I was part of the sea and yet very much myself. I could be carried by the waves and feel every ripple but my thoughts and actions were entirely my own.

Tuning out Julia sometimes and modifying the program when I needed to taught me something that was also important: creativity doesn't always mean building something. Sometimes it means removing things, dismantling them, tailoring them. The God talk... It starts out strong for sure but I didn't really notice it beyond the first few chapters. So either she tapered off eventually, or I was so used to translating her by that point that it didn't seem so heavy and proselytizing. I'm betting it was a combination of both.

If this chapter isn't working for you, that's okay. There'll always be another chapter in a few days. Also, if you want to take extra time with the chapter, that's totally okay, too. Think of this more of a nature hike with friends than a march! I suspect folks will be on different weeks sooner or later due to start dates, travel, etc. I'll start adding what week I'm in to my comments from here.

dhruva, I'm still thinking about your question and my answers so far are either too expansive or too pat. I'll write more in tomorrow's check-in, am also curious to hear what last year's folks might think about this.
posted by mochapickle at 8:40 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]

dhruva, that's a good question.

annathea applied to, was accepted, and completed an art school program. So did I! In my case it was a tough, selective writing MFA. I was also doing some live performances. That's the pat answer. Like mochapickle, I have a too-expansive answer as well. Perhaps a one-sentence compromise version is that I "came to believe" (as the recovery people say) that I had plenty of interesting ideas and I wasn't going to run out of them.

bunglegirl, I too get annoyed at the idea of being a conduit for some outside force. Thanks, mochapickle, for your kind and palatable take on all of that. I suspect you're right that either the tone and attitude changes throughout the book, or that it gets easier to translate on the fly. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn't remembered it and was taken aback when I started re-reading.

Also, aesop, I love the idea of that bleep bloop noise project.
posted by tangerine at 9:17 AM on May 12 [3 favorites]

Here are some of the Artist Date ideas that I found interesting.

- Read an inspiring book
- Do something you loved doing as a child
- Bake your favorite cake
- Take a self portrait
-Go for a sunrise hike
- Go watch the sunset by the sea
- Pick a tree and write down every single thing you can observe about it
- Balance rocks in the most challenging ways you can
- Find something nice in nature to put into your home
- Plant some seeds in your garden
- Stay out star-gazing
- Learn a new skill like ikebana art of flower arranging
- Dress in your favorite clothes and go sit in a cafe
- Learn to play a new song on the guitar, piano or any instrument of your choice
- Dance in the rain
- Paint a portrait of your pet
- Invent something useless, but fun
- Explore a new painting technique
- Give yourself a massage
- Have your own little ecstatic dance party
- Have a picnic
- Declutter your favorite room
- Buy yourself flowers
- Take a walk in a park and listen to your favorite music…or take a walk in a nature preserve and listen to nature.
- You can also go to a lake or the middle of a field and sketch or describe nature.
- Take a local tour of a factory or brewery.
- If you live in a city, go on a do-it-yourself architecture tour. Research significant buildings, and go visit them and take pictures of them.
- Tour a historic home.
- Go to a concert (sometimes, you can find free ones!)
- Go to the movies.
- Go to a play.
- Go to an old-school arcade to play games.
- Bounce around at a trampoline park.
- Go indoor skydiving.
- Try a tea tasting or wine tasting.
- Take a crafting class (maybe at a store like Michael’s or Joann’s, if you are in the U.S.)
- Buy greeting cards and send them to people you haven’t connected with in a while.
- Take a bike ride on a new route.
- Pick wildflowers and press them in books.
- Get your fortune told or get a Tarot reading. (You don’t need to take it too seriously, but it may make you see something in a different light.)
- Get up early and go somewhere to watch the sun rise.
- Gaze up at the clouds and see if their shapes remind you of anything.
- Gaze up at the moon and the stars.
- Catch a virtual comedy show.
- Sculpt something with modeling clay.
- Lie down for an hour and just listen to an audiobook.
- Watch an opera for free! The Metropolitan Opera of New York streams a different opera every day.
- Write a poem…even if you don’t consider yourself a poet. For inspiration, check out these easy poetry exercises and prompts
- Try newspaper blackout poetry.
- Try a meditation video, recording, or online class.
- Make a mood board for a writing project…or just a mood board to express your mood!
- Try a YouTube tutorial or DIY for something you’ve never done before, or haven’t done often.
- Build something with Legos.
- Read old diaries or love letters.
- Visit a place you were fond of as a child. This could be your childhood home, a wildlife sanctuary, or an amusement park
- Poke around in a neighboring city you’ve never been to.
- Go to the beach. Sit and listen to the waves, or pick up pretty sea stones and shells.
- Visit a new restaurant, and try a dish you’ve never tasted before.
- Go to a movie by yourself.
- Take a solo-walk in a forest. Take pictures of trees or other forms of nature that inspire you.
- Enjoy a Bill Gates think week retreat in the woods, away from the Internet.
- Find a historical building and spend time imagining what happened there with each detail you come across.
- Explore a niche museum and learn about something new.
- Go to the library and check out some interesting materials that you wouldn’t normally consume.
- Visit an international or specialty grocery store with a $10 budget to see what you can buy.
- Walk around a college campus. Photograph the fascinating things you find.
- Go to your favorite coffee shop, order, and drink coffee by yourself. Fully take in your surroundings.
- Go berry picking.
- Go to a swap meet or flea market and shop for interesting or useful items.
- Visit an art museum to see enchanting artworks by amazing artists. Sketch pieces you like or write about them in a journal.
- Spend a late afternoon window shopping. Go to stores without your wallet and browse through their collections.
- Get a coloring book and colored pencils. Turn on some soothing music and color.
- start a mandala.
- Learn a new language. Try Duolingo for free.
- Create a playlist of upbeat music or your favorite genre, and have a solo dance party. Better yet, open your mind with some music you normally wouldn’t listen to.
- Make a photo book of your previous travels or a dream board of destinations you’d love to visit.
- Watch a movie you wouldn’t ordinarily watch. It could be horror, romance, action, or a just-plain-weird film.
- Practice mindfulness. Start with short meditations
- Get a big jigsaw puzzle and solve it. Or try it online
- Learn origami online
- Learn a new form of physical movement — a new dance move, yoga, Krav maga, Tai chi, or any exercise trend.
-Go to a coffee shop and spend a couple of hours listening and jotting down interesting conversations. Use your notes to create a short story, poem, or song lyrics.
posted by SunPower at 7:43 AM on May 13 [10 favorites]

Wow, SunPower! This list is fantastic!

If anyone is interested in a tarot reading, memail me and we can do a little artist date together! I can do a general reading, or you can ask a question; you can use the reading as a starting point for further reflection. I am happy to do a reading for anyone interested!
posted by danabanana at 11:38 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Week 1 Day 7: Check-in

I did morning pages every day and enjoyed the process. I had been doing them since last year, but was writing only 2 pages a day recently. I'm back up to 3, and I'm happy with the extra space to write more affirmations and gratitude lists.

I did a few of the tasks but not all of them. I mainly focused on the "bad" people who hurt me in the past - not necessarily in an artistic way but in a life way. I am finding it challenging to forgive one person and let go of the pain they caused. I know that harboring resentment is not healthy for me and I hope that this will be the year that I finally conquer this beast.

I did several artist dates: I walked the dog around our rural neighborhood almost every day; I made some envelopes; I harvested dandelion greens for salads and smoothies; I started preparing to update my altar for the summer solstice (and week 6 - abundance). I didn't take any pics or make an artist date blog post like last year, but I might start that again at some point.

I am finding a second pass through the book to be much easier than the first. I used to push back on the religious parts and allow the author to get under my skin. This time I know what to expect, and also I have become more comfortable with words she uses that once made me bristle. I am looking forward to continuing on this journey and to seeing everyone else check in (but only if you want - no pressure! Gentle!)!
posted by danabanana at 11:40 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

Hi Friends,
Thanks for the perspectives on how to tailor the process to a less-religious or non-religious perspective.
The parts I had to leave on the page were those related to God and 'core negative beliefs' --
I just don't respond to those prompts right now. I don't really feel like I have any 'old enemies' of my creative worth.
I don't have any hidden creative talents-- I just want to explore from where I am at right now.
I didn't grow up in a family that was particularly artistic or musical or crafty.
What I do remember is the sense of humor that my parents had and in particular the sense of whimsy that my mom had. So, I grew up with an eye towards finding the fun, humorous side of things.

I did like the "Imaginary Lives" task. At first I was skeptical I could get to five Imaginary Lives but I was eventually able to identify a solid five. One that I will share was a surprise to me:
that of unprofessional and life-long collector of art, in the vein of Herbert and Dorothy Vogel .

I'm going to try to use our posts for a weekly Saturday-ish check in.
We will see-- I didn't remember to do the Morning Pages until Friday this week!!
But I like the idea of reading TAW before going to bed and writing Morning Pages the next morning.
So 2/7 Morning Pages this week.

And the links to the book and workbook are very helpful, thanks Sunpower for getting us there; And Mochapickle for digging around!
posted by calgirl at 12:01 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]

My day 7 check in: I did some number of pages all days, but one day I only had 2 in me, and there were a couple 2.5 page days also. That’s not all bad as my journal only has 240 pages, a bit shy of the 252 that perfectly faithful pages would require. It was interesting, not bad, sometimes useful, sometimes embarrassing. Took me about half a hour, generally. I barely slept last night for Reasons, and this morning I think every fifth word was “fret.”

My artist date this week was taking a walk in the rain while listening to scientific talks on YouTube. The pump I’m trying to prime is my scientific curiosity, and so this is the equivalent of taking myself to an opera or a museum, I guess. The last talk really stayed with me! It was one about a new hypothesized mechanism through which misfolded proteins might travel between brain cells in a contagion like process. I’ve thought of it several times this week.

Also this week, I had some long, big picture conversations about work, one with an old mentor. I think some of the journaling I did helped prime the pump for those conversations.
posted by eirias at 5:38 PM on May 13 [4 favorites]

I think a previous version of myself would have been very turned off by the God stuff. Now I can sort of "translate" it to other framings that I have seen of similar ideas. I think this book has a lot of kinship with one that I read most of a while ago, Matter and Desire (amazon link for that MeFi affiliate money) by Andreas Weber. I didn't quite finish it because it's A Lot, but I think about it so much that I probably should actually get around to it. The connections I see are plenty but hard for me to articulate: when you act creatively, you act not in isolation but in communication with the universe. Life is the universe expressing its creativity, and so the individual's creativity is a reflection of the universe's. That kind of thing. I don't do it justice. It is all kind of woo, but I guess I have a higher tolerance for woo-adjacent stuff these days. I have seen my partner make amazing strides in her social anxiety and trauma recovery with methods that would have seemed laughable to me a decade ago. And I think the case for the universe stuff is maybe made more convincingly for the woo-averse in Matter and Desire, which is plenty flowery but also pulls in a lot of actual science to support its more metaphysical claims.

Anyway. I have done pages every day this week. It's been a very interesting week in ways that feel like they must be related to the pages but that are hard to connect up explicitly.

I work in tech, and recently there has been a very abrupt switch to focusing on what we can do with LLMs in a way that I'm deeply ambivalent about. They are fascinating tools, to be sure. But they are also profoundly ethically questionable and potentially destabilizing in a lot of ways. Much of the content of the pages has been reckoning with them: the hype around them, the potential (and already very real) impact to my own job and sense of security, the changes that feel underway already. This morning, after doing pages basically completely about my feelings about all this, I talked to my partner about them and had the idea of scheduling and conducting a "Processing Your Feelings About AI" meeting for my co-workers who might be feeling similarly conflicted. I have never done anything remotely like this before and it will be arguably the most "self-starter" type of thing I've attempted in my two years as an unambitious rank-and-file programmer at this company. It's terrifying! But it seems like a good limb to go out on, and it seems hard not to credit the pages to some extent. I will say, those affirmations are starting to look pretty good!
posted by valrus at 5:41 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]

I have written three pages or more every day for my first week. It was easier than I thought to get up a little early to right, since the sun is rising at 6:45 AM this time of year. My artist date was blowing off work on Friday morning for a couple of hours to sit on my porch, drink coffee in my bathrobe, and listen to the sparrow colony in my tree. But I’m definitely going to take advantage of that awesome list of ideas upthread in the future.

I have so many thoughts about all this that are all jumbled together. All the talk in the book about the divine creator, reminds me of ideas about the higher self that I’ve encountered elsewhere. For me, that divine source of creativity is as much my unconscious self, that I can’t access with my conscious, thinking brain, as it is a deity that is external to myself. My mind has a mind of its own, as I learned from Lynda Barry.

At the same time, I am a polytheist too, so I’m very happy to replace Julia Cameron’s word God with “the gods,” or the name of a specific deity.

One of the careers off of my fantasy list from this chapter was “psychic”, so I guess I’ll be the second person in this thread to offer to do a reading if anyone wants one.
posted by Tesseractive at 11:05 PM on May 13 [5 favorites]

SunPower, that is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing these with us.

This week, I made time each day to do my morning pages, though I didn't make it to three full pages every time. Nonetheless, I surprised myself in my ability to get up earlier each morning. Even if the first page or two is mostly navel-gazing dribble (ah! inner critic!), I love the feeling of having arrived somewhere after three pages. In at least two occasions, I made some rather interesting discoveries.

For my artist date, I went on a walking tour of historic downtown Los Angeles. It was with other people, but I'm still counting it as a date. Group date. =) I don't know yet what I'll be doing this week, but I made a reservation to visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology in two weeks, and this time I'll be alone. I've been meaning to visit this museum for years!
posted by johnxlibris at 8:19 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Day 7 Check in: I went to a art market for the artist dae witht he idea that i would view it as a museum rather than to buy something. I too don't haev any creativity enemies, so I just focussed on the positive parts. The morning pages are coming along fine, but I have to be careful not think of work in the mornings else it veers into the direction of regular work (which is fun and worthwhile, but perhaps not right now!). The last time I did the morning pages was at the tail end of my PhD and I was under a lot of stress; so I'm assuming it helped me cope, but since I only did the morning pages and nothing else, now I feel that it was unbalanced.
posted by dhruva at 12:11 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Week 1 Check-In: Recovering a Sense of Safety

Hello everyone! Week 1 made a deeper impression on me this time around. I spent a lot of time on the tasks this week. The alternate lives one surprised me: two jobs were scientists, another was a job that required being worlds more outgoing and outspoken than I've ever been in real life. And for the past three days I've been grappling with Task 4, The Monster, which I wasn't ready to recognize last year, and I'm still kind of at odds with, but here we are.

I skipped morning pages on Wednesday due to an early appointment, which of course needed to be followed by breakfast-to-go and sitting in the sunshine, surrounded by new leaves and blue skies. I remain delighted by my choice. Yesterday I cleaned up the front porch, shook out the moths and the dried leaves from the wicker chairs, and set up the space for iced tea in the evenings. I'm pretty sure we're going to need to put up some some cafe lights this year.

Thanks to SunPower for that absolutely brilliant list of artist dates! I am going to print it out and use it. I found a list of free museums in my city, too, and I'm looking forward to checking some of them out.

I love reading all of your updates and I'm so glad you're here!
posted by mochapickle at 12:17 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]

6/7 for morning pages last week. I might try scheduling a post-work artist's date in the middle of the week, maybe an hour in some different scenery.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:42 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]

I was able to write my morning pages for 5 days. First, I was planning to skip writing about the monster hall of fame but decided to go for it. Well ….actually felt better writing about it.

The weather has been pretty good here this week . So, I got all my indoor plants out, repotted some of them, planted some seeds and went for a walk in the park. I even got some flowers from Trader joes. I think, I had multiple artist dates this week.
posted by SunPower at 6:37 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]

One of my "alternate lives" was being a spy. (Fantasy version! Recruiters, if you're reading this, I don't think I really want the job, though as Joan Armatrading put it, I'm open to persuasion.) Now that I work from home and don't go out much and rarely take transit anywhere, I miss casual eavesdropping. I used to appreciate getting little glimpses into other people's lives. I'd like to figure out a way to bring some of that back.
posted by tangerine at 5:12 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]

I've been having trouble with the morning pages and I realize that part of it is whenever I'm given the opportunity to write stream of consciousness or diary style, it inevitably turns into a list of my own faults and reasons why I am irredeemably flawed and evil. I've become slightly more creative since I was a teenager and was writing about how my pimples and chunky thighs made me the world's most miserable wretch, but is there a way to be less narcissistic about these things? Next time I'm probably going to morning page about how there's some angel out there who is writing about the glowing light of the sun and the whispers of the pines and how I don't deserve to have pen and ink compared to them.
posted by kingdead at 6:21 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]

Next time I'm probably going to morning page about how there's some angel out there who is writing about the glowing light of the sun

kingdead, I just had the thought that somehow your angel and your teenager-writing-about-pimples somehow found each others' journals, and what an awesome short story that would make!

(But yeah, my writing feels too narcissistic too and it really is a struggle to get outside my own head)
posted by johnxlibris at 6:53 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]

More later -- some aspects of this are going well -- but for now, here's a grouchy observation: among other things, I find Julia's use of "we" really annoying. I appreciate that you've encountered some common patterns but don't presume to speak for me!

To be fair, it's not just Julia: it irritates me in all those essays everywhere about What Things are Like Now (social media, post-lockdown, &c ad naus.) too.
posted by tangerine at 5:08 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]

among other things, I find Julia's use of "we" really annoying

That is one of my top pet peeves, along with "You were thinking..." No, I wasn't. I was thinking something else.

6/7 this week. The artist's date was supposed to be Brooklyn Botanic Garden, but I got lost in Prospect Park--my phone wasn't charged, so I couldn't find my way out.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:30 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]

Hello TAW friends! Here's my week 2 check-in:

I did morning pages every day, but I did not do the full 3 pages each time. I wrote many affirmations, and I sorted out some feelings I've been having. So it feels like I did the work, as I showed up every morning and did what I could.

My artist date was inspired by SunPower's excellent list: it reminded me that listening to music while bouncing on a mini trampoline (rebounder) is really fun and makes me feel very good in many ways. So I did a daily trampoline date this week; I'm expecting this to become routine and I'm happy that I had a positive approach to starting this habit once again.

I enjoyed doing the Life Pie and comparing it to last year's: the shape was more warped and thin last time, and this year it's fuller and more balanced. Which makes sense to me, so yay!

Other things this week: experienced lots of synchronicity, walked the dog and played ball with her every day, foraged yarrow for tea, read a few books.

If I remember correctly, I was still pushing back on much of what the author wrote and how she wrote it at this point last year. It became more tolerable in future weeks, and then it became kind of magical. I'm looking forward to future magic!
posted by danabanana at 4:48 PM on May 20 [3 favorites]

My week 2 went pretty well. I wrote my daily pages 7 out of 7 days. Waking up early and doing them before I shower and get ready for work in the morning has been going well. I don't rightly remember what I wrote about this week other than some ruminations on illness and chronic pain, which have been flaring up badly this week. But, I think what's good about a creativity course instead of a productivity course is that contemplative rest "counts" as much as writing or drawing.

As for artists dates, I went for a quiet walk in the woods near Ashland last Sunday (and found some people's altars/land art installations/fairy doors which was pretty cool) and then on Wednesday I cracked into some gold watercolors I bought on vacation but hadn't even opened. It was nice to just put paint on paper without trying to make it look like anything in particular.

kingdead, if you're struggling to get outside of your own negative self talk stream of consciousness while journaling, I recommend Lynda Barry's journal prompts. The "X pages" approach is a structured method to get at your sensory memories of the recent or distant past. (I also use it to write fiction.) It's like a structured brainstorm followed by a focused period of descriptive writing. Her "review frame" for making concrete observations about your day is also useful. Here is a google doc summarizing both the review frame and x pages if you'd rather read than watch.

posted by Tesseractive at 10:02 PM on May 20 [5 favorites]

Hi friends! My week got away from me so I'm spending one more day on Chapter 2. But I'm happy to report I had 7/7 morning pages this week, even if it meant I had to finish them after dinner. Check-in to come.

Also, if you're just now finding this thread or if you've already picked up the book and would still like to begin, welcome!
Last year, we had a gap in our starting dates and it ended up being a positive thing for all.
posted by mochapickle at 8:14 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]

I started late, reading the front matter for week 1 so I’m kind of in-between weeks 1 and 2. I’ll admit that I have been avoiding reading the week 2 chapter because I’m so allergic to this kind of thing, especially when I could read a novel instead! So that will take some pushing but I’m trying to be more self aware.

I have written 6/7 morning pages, missing one for an international flight. I love the list of artists dates and already do a lot of them regularly so I feel like I’m doing pretty good. This artist date for week 1 felt like cheating because I was in Paris for two weeks alone with no expectations or need to do anything touristy. Since I sketched at 5+ museums, rode a bike along the Seine, and other things like that I’m counting my artist dates as the day trips I took. Specifically, going to Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh lived the prolific last month of his life and hiked above town to the fields where he painted. I stood on the tiny dirt track between fields and listened. Birds, wind, grass, and the bonging of the church’s bells. I worked on a few quick paintings trying not to be too judgmental since I’m trying out a new medium.

At the end of week one going through the affirmations and detractors. I realized people have been really supportive of me. I questioned why I stopped creating and a lot of it is internal forces, perhaps influenced by societies expectations, social media, etc? I’m thinking about that and why I feel like I don’t have the time or space to create (I literally have both in so many ways more than most people working in the US). TV is probably one answer to that.
posted by Bunglegirl at 8:39 AM on May 21 [4 favorites]

Week 2.
Hi Friends. My morning pages are admittedly shorter than my goal.
Also I find it difficult to wake up and start writing morning pages before my head fills up with the minutiae of the upcoming day.

Oh Bunglegirl, I think your artists date are spot-on!! And sound interesting and beautiful.

On another note, I find myself using Artists Day Out instead of 'date'. I don't know why I started doing that but it feels more like me.

Because I am trying to declutter my living space at the same time I am trying out TAW, I hesitated using the Day Out for a art/craft splurge [to $5] however, I really wanted to. So I bought a clip board I saw while I was out exploring. Very utilitarian but very much needed so that I can write my Morning Pages and try other artwork on the go or in my bed.
For some reason this felt like artistic and creative.

I am excited that I found an Arts and Crafts handicraft marketplace for today's Day Out.
Challenge: I have to go to work today so I can only spend a limited amount of time there.
BUT it sounds like my jam and is close to work.
Also I met a new co-worker who I was a delight to get to know. They are young and very energetic and artistic too. I look forward to chatting to them about their career.

4/7 Morning Pages this week.
posted by calgirl at 9:28 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]

Those excursions sound lovely, Bunglegirl. Like you, I've been around mostly supportive people over the years. Discouraging factors come from things like this horrible 2016 comment.

I'm smiling at calgirl's objection to "Artist's Date" because the term feels icky to me too. I just make sure to arrange an interesting and unusual diversion or excursion for myself, never mind what it's called. Likewise the "morning pages": not necessarily in the morning, and I have seriously tiny writing so it's two instead of three, otherwise they'd take an hour or more. But I always do them, except on one weekend day. That was the deal I made with myself ahead of time.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I impatiently started as soon as I finished reading the book, so I'm heading into week 4. I have a sudden trip coming up --a funeral, not work or fun -- so we'll see how that goes.

It's taken me a while to work up "affirmations" that felt accurate and helpful and didn't make me cringe, and they're still subject to occasional revision. But because I'm in a not-great situation at work, they've turned out to be unexpectedly useful. For a few months I was constantly trying to figure out how to make the work situation better. Eventually I concluded that it wasn't really fixable. It's not useful to think about it any more; I just have to tolerate it until I can find another job, and realistically that'll take a while. When I catch myself starting to think about it, I can instantly switch into silent reminders that there's real work going on elsewhere.
posted by tangerine at 11:03 AM on May 21 [2 favorites]

This week I managed to do my morning pages 6/7 days, today (Sunday) being the only day I didn’t make it. (There’s still time!). For the tasks, I enjoyed the many “make a list” options: I do love a good list. In particular, the “I would like to” list brought up some unexpected wants/desires. The pie chart was also fun to draw, even if it didn’t show me anything I didn’t already know. For my artist’s day out, I had planned to take an afternoon to just sit alone and listen to music, but it didn’t work out. Yet I have reservations for something exciting this week, so I’m looking forward to that.
posted by johnxlibris at 3:22 PM on May 21 [2 favorites]

I seem to be decent at sticking to a routine if it feels like homework so I'm 100% on pages since I started, but I've not been great about the end-of chapter exercises. I skipped a couple of Chapter 1's because people in my life have generally been supportive of my creative endeavors, and I'm still working through Chapter 2's. It might be a good way to fill some pages to take a closer look at them and ask myself why I'm dragging my feet.

One side effect of the pages is I seem to be looking at my phone less and I'm also taking walks in the mornings much more consistently than I have in the past. It's hard to connect these things up to the pages other than maybe being more intentional about how I spend my time.

My first artist date was to a nearby park that I've visited a couple times but haven't taken nearly as much advantage of as I should have in the time I've lived here. I thought it was interesting that though it was just a walk in the woods, thinking of it as an artist date made me more open to serendipity and just sort of Noticing and Feeling things. A couple times I was moved nearly to tears just by the beauty of nature or something I can't even remember now, and I'm an emotionally constipated dude who historically has not cried easily. I picked up a map when I arrived and gave it away almost immediately to someone who asked me if I knew the trails — I did not, but opening myself to the possibility of getting a little lost seemed in the spirit of things. In the end my adequate sense of direction won out.

My second artist date yesterday was going to Goodwill. It was much harder to maintain the "artist brain" that I described amid the hustle and bustle. But I did find, remarkably, a tour shirt for a band I love, for the tour that included the show I went to last April (it was Destroyer's Labyrinthitis tour, if you're curious). At $25 I'd passed on it but at $4 it was a no-brainer. I am trying to practice opening my mind in response to my reflexive thought that this is just a happy but meaningless coincidence.
posted by valrus at 9:53 PM on May 22 [3 favorites]

Week 2: I did pages 6/7 days, although once it was not in the morning, and I do think I see the difference it makes in when I do them. One day I did them outside and that was glorious.

My artist’s date: I found a YouTube video of a half day NIH workshop on a topic that has me excited and I did like 40 minutes of weeding while listening to the first talk. Having something repetitive to do while listening helps — sort of like people who knit in seminars — and there could not be a better time for this than May.

The exercises for week 2 did not completely grab me — they felt slightly miscellaneous. I definitely bristled at some of her framing around what we owe to each other. I am decreasingly individualistic and that made some of chapter 2 a harder read. Also, the section on nightmare people made me think, jeez, I am probably someone’s nightmare person, and I am not sure that’s really where she intended that to go. Well, anyway, onward. I haven’t yet cracked open chapter 3, but I’m on track with my pages so far.
posted by eirias at 5:36 AM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Week 2 Check In: Recovering a Sense of Identity

This was a great week and I'm glad I spent a little more time with it. I'm not a fan of the crazymakers essay -- like, I get it and it's Julia's way of saying that there are people out there who are draining your energy, shattering your focus, and setting your personal compass spinning like a wheel, and you should probably recognize who those people are and spend less time on them and/or decide more carefully which details to share -- but I hate the term crazymaker and I think maybe there's a better way of naming that. And yet her latest book, which is kind of a remix of this one but intended specifically for writing, uses this term as well. Boo, Julia.

But! I did like revisiting the essay on Skepticism, and I really, really liked the essay on Attention, which I re-read throughout the week because it rang so clear and true:
"...the truth of a life really has little to do with its quality. The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.


The reward for attention is always healing."
I was worried about my dog this week -- we've been in and out of the vet for a while now -- and so we'll go sit in the back yard, watch the birds, and she'll streeeeeetch out with her belly on the warm concrete patio, and I'll sit in the hammock with my feet hanging over, and everything seems a bit more manageable.

I keep thinking about dhruva's question, and one answer is that positive things seem to happen when I'm allowing creativity/openness/patience to rule. This week, I heard from someone who I hadn't heard from in 20 years, who recounted our past with more kindness and warmth than I probably deserved, so now something I'd worried about for literally decades now feels quietly and lovingly resolved. I received THREE books of poetry as gifts over the course of last week, all lovely, all unexpected, separately from two different people. I went to a small party over the weekend and saw people I hadn't seen since well before the transplant, and my friend's wife hugged me tight and told me she's so glad I'm still here and still alive. How often does anyone get to hear someone saying they're glad you're alive? Also, Edgar Wright liked one of my instagram comments, which was rather exciting!

I continue to love reading all of the updates and see all the ways people are tailoring this to their own path.

kingdead, I was hunting for morning pages prompts (there are so many!) and I liked this list in particular for approaching negative talk. A lot of my pages are to-do lists, also there's a lot of What I Want To Change About My Current Situation And How To Go About That. Last year, I had a lot of morning pages devoted to rearranging my house? Much of which I ended up doing -- there's a lot more art on my walls now compared to this time last year, and the whole place feels much more lived in.

Hope all are having a good week. :)
posted by mochapickle at 9:18 AM on May 23 [6 favorites]

Week 3 Check In: Recovering a Sense of Power

Synchronicity is a funny thing: For two weeks, I'd been thinking I should get myself some flowers. I love having flowers in the house and I used to buy some regularly. This week, my mom brought back some things from my grandmother's house and one of those things was a green glass vase full of big silk sunflowers, which is now sitting brightly in the living room. Also, a friend and I were texting about a mystery novel we'd both read and our texts crossed each other with the exact same reaction, word for word.

Kind of a mixed week this week. 5.5/7 for the morning pages. I tend to get distracted and wander off and twice this week I never quite wandered back. This week, I'm going to go back to setting a timer and focus on doing each day's pages in a single go. I was cranky and inpatient this week, so that part in the Growth essay about how a week of insights (like last week!) can be followed by a week of sluggishness (like this week!) was helpful perspective.

Woke up early this morning before sunrise and decided to sit out on the porch and watch the day come in. Birds and crickets gave way to a woodpecker terrorizing some poor household down the block. At dawn, a rather large skunk meandered out of the alley and crossed the street to the next alley down. I'd been letting Annie nose around in the front yard and thankfully saw the skunk before she did.

I like the Detective Work exercise. It was good to spend some time with that. Julia's on to something, I think, about looking closely at what made you happy in childhood and reconnecting with that, and I'm always buoyed by this. Ten-year-old me would have loved my dog and my tiny old house, would have been fine with my messy hair. She'd have wanted me to do more things, though: "Wait, you have a whole set of watercolors and good paper and it's all just sitting there? You have a car that you can take anywhere you want and you haven't driven down to the lake to look at the boats and bounce on the floating docks? YOU HAVE A TENT!"

So I'm going to let my ten-year-old self live here for the summer, I think she'd be good for me. I found a shiny monster sticker in a drawer this morning and stuck it on the fridge to welcome her.

Hope everyone had a great week. Week 4!
posted by mochapickle at 7:00 AM on May 28 [6 favorites]

Week 3 Check-In

It was an exciting week. For my artist's day out, I went to the Museum of Jurassic Technology, a quirky cabinet of curiosities that blurs the lines between museum and eccentric collector and between truth and fiction. I spent a good two hours just wandering around back and forth between exhibits and just enjoying the experience. I might go back for a second day out in the next few weeks, perhaps to really dive into one or two exhibits (like the 1930s mobile homes dioramas or the bestiary).

I was 6/7 on my morning pages. These have become noticeably more positive compared to previous weeks. I still struggle to find a topic to write about, so I used the tasks from this week's TAW to help spur some creativity. For example, remembering my past bedrooms made me realize that I'm not a "bed person." I don't default to spending time in my bedroom and, come to think of it, I never spent most time in my bedroom as a kid. Something to think about, for sure!

I am already noticing that writing daily has helped improve (and speed up!) how I write in other spaces. Even here, this post would have taken 20 minutes a few weeks ago. Now, I'm just cranking words out. =)
posted by johnxlibris at 9:47 AM on May 28 [3 favorites]

Hello TAW pals! I'm enjoying everyone's check-ins! Here is mine:

Week 3 Check-in

This was a weird week for me as I was feeling under the weather and not very enthusiastic about my inner creative. I did what I suppose is around the bare minimum. I guess this falls into the "other issues" category.

I skipped one day of morning pages because I slept poorly and couldn't focus. I regretted not trying because it really does seem to have an impact on the rest of my day. So that's a lesson I learned this week, or at least I was reminded about it as I already knew the power of the pages.

For artist dates, I made some mail art using magazines, catalogs, maps, washi tape, and stickers. I did a few sessions of working on these little projects and I enjoyed it very much.

Synchronicity! Yes! Often and interesting! Lots of good times (11:11, 12:34, etc.) and hearing words on the TV as I am reading them in a book or online. Fun!

I hope everyone is enjoying the process! Onto week 4!
posted by danabanana at 2:55 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

6/7 morning pages again, but no artist's date unless getting flummoxed by weekend MTA and stopping by a Five Guys to recover counts.

This week I'm really going to go for 7/7 on morning pages--I hate putting that in writing because what if I don't, but 7/7 is the goal. That, and an artist's date that doesn't involve a french fry, unless the french fry is eaten under a tree.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:57 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

Week 1 Check-in

I'm on a slightly different schedule, so this morning completed day 6 of my week 1 morning pages. I, too, didn't know what to write and typically write journal-y stuff like what's going on in my life, current challenges etc, so it's been good to read that we are all together on this one. And now that I'm a few days into it, I'm noticing that I really like starting the day with a brain dump of all the junk floating around in my mind. It is a clarifying force and lets me get on with things once I've released all the nitter-natter onto a page (or three).

Big thanks to Sunpower for the list of date ideas, and to Tesseractive and mochapickle for the journaling prompts/framework - all so helpful.

I'm just now drinking my morning coffee and settling in to read through Chapter 1, so I will report back on the artist's date and exercises in a later post. Onward!
posted by lulu68 at 3:35 PM on May 28 [3 favorites]

I'm forcing myself to write in the afternoon if I can't do so in the morning, but it seems to make a big difference , and it's better if I do it in the morning. I missed a few days, but I'm trying to get back to the routine. I went to a book fair for my 2nd artist date. One other thing I've noticed it that I seem to write much faster longhand than typing and so I'm seriously thinking of going back to the days when I used to write short stories on paper and edit them as I typed them up.
posted by dhruva at 4:35 PM on May 28 [2 favorites]

Week 2 (for me) check in: 7/7 morning pages

I’m realizing how much time morning pages takes, especially once I add on the affirmations but I’m really trying to pull myself through it. Half of my entries are about the noise my neighbors are making (upstairs lady listens to one whiny song very loud every morning and afternoon 6 times in a row - do I do a wellness check?). I realized I need to let go and divorce myself from everything about this building if I’m ever going to move.

This week’s artist date was to a big art museum I’m a member of to draw. I saw all the big exhibits, although the mass of people continues to annoy me. Now I guess I can go back and revisit the quieter permanent collections. Im also challenging myself to do different kinds of artist dates than the things I usually or already do.

I was really excited about my two things I used to love but one of them was to sit outside with friends and I had friends cancel plans with me on 3 different occasions last minute throughout the week so I failed on that one, but not without trying. I made a tiny bit of progress on one of my tiny changes. I don’t know if it’s good or bad to do this process while I’m going through some big changes in my life, including the end of a long term relationship.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:58 AM on May 29 [2 favorites]

Late Week 3 Check In

Pages: 7/7 days, but two were in the evening because I had a morning tummyache.

So far so good? It was weird to catch up on my pages at night, then try to also write first thing the next morning. I think it's better to be all morning or all night (I used to be an every night writer, but I am coming to look forward to my morning pages as a bit of a reflective brain dump, dream diary, downloading-worries-out-of-my-brain time like some others have mentioned).

This week's date for me was blowing off work early to sit at my kitchen table and paint. At this point part of the painting process is just remembering what all my brushes and paints and inks even do or look like on a page, since it's been so long. I also like to paint words and I even ended up writing a poem for the first time since probably 2008. It doesn't matter if it's good! It just has to be there! I bought myself a bunch of illustration board but I've so far been too nervous to use it. I did use up at least half a steno notebook stolen from work though. (Stolen. Liberated? Appropriated. I brought it home. No one missed it.)

I desperately want to do the week of no reading described in the week 4 chapter but I'm absolutely the person making excuses why I can't. (But I'm an academic department chair and I have to grade!) So I'm going to reschedule it for myself to a week after June 25 and hopefully reward myself for a tough academic year with the luxury of not checking my email for a while. If anyone successfully does it I want to hear about it!
posted by Tesseractive at 6:17 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]

Tesseractive, great update! About the reading restriction: I did it pretty strictly last year and it was very interesting! I read fiction every day, and cutting that out left hours of time to do other things. I started a knitting project and did lots of crafting. No social media, skimming email subject lines for important items, no reading my snail mail... I think the lesson I learned is that I do not need to read to fill up my time; I have lots of other things to do. But: first, I am on disability and my job is staying sane and reading helps me stay focused; also, I read before going to sleep and if I don't, I don't sleep as well. Last year I listened to guided meditations to help me sleep, and that was helpful. But my routine is reading until I just can't anymore and then falling asleep.

So I did reading restriction successfully last year and it was a good experience and I am happy I learned a bit about myself while not reading. But I am not doing it again this time, and it's something I wrote about in my morning pages when I was deciding whether to do it. My sleep routine is more important to me than seeing what more restriction would be like this year. I hope that feedback is helpful!

(I never did go back to that knitting project!)
posted by danabanana at 9:03 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]

I feel bad but I have bailed on this. I didn't know that my job was going to basically implode in early May - it's been and continues to be terrible; I can't really talk about it but my recent Askme pretty much speaks for itself - and I just do not have the bandwidth to do anything else. I'm enjoying reading everyone else's updates though and maybe next year if we do it again I'll be able to participate!
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:39 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]

Ugh, mgl, I'm so sorry about your job. What a mess.

I'm on week 5 so my reading deprivation period was last week. FYI, Julia, I get that things were different in 1992 but in 2023 you don't have to be a pompous, self-important excuse-maker to have a job that actually, literally, involves significant amounts of reading every day.

I avoided any discretionary, non-work reading: I kept up with email but didn't follow recreational links. That worked out reasonably well on Monday and Tuesday. After that it was simpler. On Wednesday I flew to Montreal for a few days. I wasn't working and I was surrounded by people, so that was easy enough. I hit a breaking point on Saturday after numerous airport delays. I spent five hours in the terminal mostly eavesdropping, window-shopping, and writing in my notebook. Then the airline announced yet another delay. It would be another half hour till the flight, then five and a half more in the air. At that point it felt entirely reasonable to pick up a book, so I did.

As soon as I was back at home, I did a major Week 4 clothes purge. That felt great.

Julia's references to "tantrums" frankly pissed me off. I'm an adult ffs. I can make and execute plans, but I reserve the right to change my mind if, as in this case, there's a good reason.

And speaking of adulthood: Some people, Julia, are actually over fifty years old RIGHT NOW! Sixty-five! Eighty! Those are real people's ages, not necessarily points to imagine in the far-off future.

It was instructive to note that I really didn't miss my usual miscellaneous link-following at all. Which leads me to the week 5 tasks. I'm definitely not the only one of us for whom a "major creative block" is puttering around online, including here.

The so-called "Forbidden Joys" exercise made me laugh because with one exception I've done everything on her sample list. The exception? I haven't learned to fly and I'm glad to leave that one to the pros. Around here, driving is stressful enough in the two usual dimensions.

I mentioned this before but I'm so glad to be back to daily writing. It's what I did for my entire life till the last few years and I'm starting to feel more like myself, whatever that means. It's taking me 40-45 minutes on average, I think. If anyone's willing to talk about it, I'm curious about roughly how much time other people are spending on theirs.
posted by tangerine at 1:44 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

mygothlaundry, totally understandable. We have school districts being taken over here in southern Colorado, Woodland Park is just up the hill from here. There's absolutely a playbook, and dark money, and-and-and. But please do hang out with us here, we love having you and I love the idea of making this an annual thing, just for the sake of regular creative recalibration.

tangerine, my morning pages took 23 minutes today, which was me not getting up, not stopping, writing at a pretty solid clip. I've been trying to write more quickly this week, which seems to tap more into the subconscious thoughts/subconscious connections even though it makes everything utterly illegible? Perhaps that's a good thing. I do three pages of wide looseleaf.

More tomorrow or Sunday but mostly just wanted to say hi! Hi everyone!
posted by mochapickle at 8:03 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]

Hi back and thanks, mochapickle! That's good to know. I have microscopic handwriting and use tiny grid paper. I knew three pages was unrealistic for me, but wasn't sure what that means in "normal people" quantities.

Something I intended to mention in that earlier comment: a couple of weeks ago I realized how much I missed hearing snippets of strangers' conversations. Since then I've been making a point of putting myself in situations where that's possible.

A few days ago I overheard someone say to a friend: "But he was mostly interested in my kosher uterus." I didn't catch any more of it, but there's a whole story in that one line.
posted by tangerine at 12:16 PM on June 3 [8 favorites]

Hi everyone,

It’s so wonderful to read everyone’s update.

I was doing very well with my morning pages until I fell sick. I went a week without writing. During that time, numerous sad memories were floating in my mind, and I desperately wanted to unload them onto my morning pages. However, I couldn't find the motivation to do so. I am not sure if it’s just me .Whenever, I am physically unwell, my brain tends to engage in negative rumination, which becomes challenging to control during that time. But everything gets better after though.

When I started reading week 4, I was surprised to read how Julia mentions about the feelings I felt when I was sick. She emphasizes how important the morning pages are to unload our extreme emotions. Is it synchronicity??? Now the goal is to find a way to push myself to write the morning pages on my worst days. But idk how!!! Any ideas???

I recently joined Tai chi classes to learn something new. It’s interesting how the slow movements make you sweat. I can say it was and is going to be one of the artist’s date for the coming weeks.
posted by SunPower at 8:48 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]

7/7 morning pages. Finally.

The no-reading was a flop, and I'm going to try again in the middle of the week. My replacement for scrolling is reading actual books, and there's nothing else I want to do during those idle moments when I'm too tired for thought work.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:12 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

I balked, and whined, and resisted the reading deprivation challenge, but during Monday's morning pages I ended up convincing myself I could do it. And for the most part I did! I'm a department head and a librarian, so it's just not possible for me to do my job without reading, but I cut out any recreational or web reading (including Mefi!). I used the extra time to set up a new notebook and think about some goals for the summer. It was time well spent.

Morning pages: 7/7!

Artist Day Out: I spent the U.S. Memorial Day holiday at a huge festival, just meandering through the vendor/artists' stalls. I bought a lovely, white clay soap dish, something I had been needing for a while but none of the (terrible) options on Amazon seemed to be a good fit. And I supported a local artist, so that's great!

Synchronicity: I keep seeing it, and then I forget to write it down. At least twice this week, I experienced it... only to now have forgotten what it was.

I have to agree with other folks who have said the morning pages are the best part of this process. I feel more creative, writing is easier (though, not necessarily better), I am more curious and feel interested in more projects... Sidenote: I've been experiencing some serious burnout over the last year. I don't just mean overwork, though that's part of it, but extreme cynicism and a lack of faith in the efficacy of what I do. But I'm beginning to feel passionate about projects again, and I think I have the morning pages to thank for that. =)
posted by johnxlibris at 10:32 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]

Week 4 Check In: Recovering a Sense of Integrity

Hi everyone!

My reading embargo backfired spectacularly. Surely Julia knows that if you tell someone they can't do something they'll only want to do it more? I unplugged the TV and put the books on the shelf, only to find myself so distracted by concentrating on the whole no-books-no-tv-no-xbox-ever thing that I ended up scrolling on instagram and playing dorky little games on my phone, certainly more than I did during the previous weeks, and more than once I'd catch myself online without even realizing how I'd gotten there.

So this week forced me to think a little more about my uses and intentions for reading/scrolling/tv, am I using each engagement as a soothing/distracting activity, or is it something that genuinely helps and enhances my day? For example, I'm more likely to spend more time working on the yard if I have a podcast helping me pass the time, that's useful. But if I'm just doomscrolling to procrastinate or dull/delay my thoughts, then that's probably something to work on. I did end up doing a month of no TV/internet after completing TAW last year and it really did help me -- I focus a lot more easily when I'm not tuned in to competing frequencies. I'm interested in trying this again, maybe a different week or 1-2 days a week.

Definitely experiencing an uptick in wanting to shake things up in my life, which is good. I signed up for a free online calligraphy class that starts in July. I've been baking a lot lately. I bought new walking shoes to replace an old pair. I'm more on top of errands lately. I finally found a name for a character I couldn't name before, so that was kind of a breakthrough because I've been wanting to return to that project but felt I didn't have enough of a grasp of her just yet.

6/7 morning pages but I've been doing them faster, so that seems to make more of an impact on the day. SunPower, I missed a day this week because I'd gotten some unexpected news the night before and I didn't feel quite ready to address it through the pages. I was in a much more grounded place by the next morning and had plenty of thoughts, even ended up writing an extra page. I do find that it's really nice to prepare a cup of tea to go with the pages -- I've been drinking spearmint tea and if I write fast enough I can finish the pages before it gets cold.

Artist date was simple: I went to a coffee shop I'd never been to, sat outside and listened to the rain. They have these homemade syrups for the various coffee drinks, so I got a latte with the black walnut one and it was wonderful -- there was a kind of an unexpected smokiness to it. It was good.

Hope all had a good week! Hopping over to Week 5!
posted by mochapickle at 11:10 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]

Hi all! I really enjoy reading everyone's comments about progress and other issues. I do my writing in a college-ruled notebook and 3 pages takes me about 25 minutes. I have wide-ruled notebooks to use next and I'm curious to see how this will affect how much I write!

Checking in: I did morning pages every day and I continue to truly enjoy the process. It's definitely my favorite part of TAW.

My artist date was watching the 6-part PBS series of Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth with Bill Moyer on Kanopy and crafting with paper and glue the whole time. I found their conversation riveting and the hours flew by! The power of myth is fundamentally the path to self-discovery, and I enjoyed seeing the parallels between what Cameron presents and Campbell's theories. He spoke of Jung and serendipity and the value of understanding the bounty of the universe, which is key to what we're doing. It was a great reinforcement of some of the topics and an interesting explanation of archetypes, yin and yang, chakras, and lots of myths. So that was fun!

I continue to experience little moments of synchronicity, which is always delightful to me! Nothing huge this week, but I'm definitely feeling these messages from the universe!

Thanks for reading this! I appreciate the community we are building here! On to week 5!
posted by danabanana at 5:46 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]

I was 7/7 on pages for week 4 but again, I had to do one at night due to illness. I'm feeling antsy to be able to go back and read everything but I am trying to be patient until week 9 (I am not typically a patient person but I guess we're all here for personal growth). I've filled one composition book already and I'm about 1/4 through a second one. It takes me at least 30 minutes, closer to an hour when I get distracted by daydreaming or looking stuff up on my phone.

I decided to try picking up chess again this week, in service of "things that might be fun." My dad taught me how to play as a kid, but not any actual strategies, just what the pieces do. So I'm using the app and doing lessons. My artist date was to go to the public library's summer chess club--I know that might not exactly count as feeding my artist but it was something to do that got me out of the house? (I went 1-5. Definitely got schooled by people who know the actual names of all the different openings. I am learning that unlike the collectible card game I typically play, there is no "heart of the cards" in chess--you can't stay in a losing position hoping to draw the card that saves you. You should probably just concede (resign) and move on. I'm sure there's a Julia Cameron lesson in all this somewhere.)
posted by Tesseractive at 8:19 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]

Week 3/4 Check-in
I’m a little in between and not quite sure what week to say I’m on. I have missed a few days of pages but am back in the saddle for now. How do you all pace yourselves on the reading and exercises at the end of each chapter? I’ve been reading at the end/start of a week and doing the exercises all at once and it ends up taking a lot of my day. I feel like I’m always behind, not that it matters but I also don’t want this to last for 24 weeks instead of 12!

I enjoyed the childhood exercises. I went to my childhood home this weekend and had some food I only eat there and spent time outdoors alone listening to birdsong we don’t get nearly as much of in the city. I feel like I do a lot of activities where I’m alone and can think, cutting out fabric for a project, yard work, and weeding my garden last week.

So far I have discounted the synchronicity aspect but a few times this week something sparked a thought in my mind. The book’s discussion of being jealous of people creating the idea you had. This happens to me all the time. But the cold hard fact is I don’t DO the things, so my problem really lack of action and being accepting of playing and not trying to crate the “best” on my first try. Part of it is on some level fear of not being good anymore, and part of it is not wanting to “waste” supplies. I need to just DO and stop being to precious about consumables. This week I saw Austin Kleon’s post titled Artists Must Be Allowed to Make Bad Work was a reminder of this for me.
posted by Bunglegirl at 11:01 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]

Bunglegirl, I've been reading the chapter (including the exercises) at some point on the weekend. At any point from then through the following week, I do at least some of the exercises. I'm not being strict about them, having taken to heart mochapickle's sensible advice to skip over any that don't apply or resonate.

I'm enjoying all the idiosyncratic things people have mentioned recently. Working backwards:

Tesseractive, as a kid I had zero chess strategy either. I remember late one night when I was twelve, jetlagged after a long flight, playing both sides with no idea how the game would resolve, just letting the pieces make their own decisions.

danabanana, documentary-watching while gluing sounds appealing though maybe not for me till my dog is a little older and less eager to engage in all activities with full nose and mouth.

mochapickle, that new-to-you coffee shop, your black walnut latte, watching the rain!

johnxlibris, a beautiful clay soap dish!

betweenthebars, I bet the point of the no-reading exercise is more about finding out what happens when you try than it is about following the embargo to the letter.

SunPower, I'm sorry you were sick. Glad you're feeling better now and I hope you enjoy that Tai Chi class.

And a great big hug to mygothlaundry.
posted by tangerine at 3:38 PM on June 6 [3 favorites]

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