This week I am attending the International Death, Grief and Bereavement Conference. I know it sounds like a party in a box—fun not included—but try to suppress your envy. Actually, the conference has been interesting but emotionally draining. (Is it possible for your psyche to become a limp noodle?)
I knew I would get something out of the conference I can use in my social work practice, but I was surprised to attend a session Tuesday that could be useful for my life as a writer. I’ve sometimes pondered how writers continue to produce work when they are getting kicked around by life. There are varying levels of tough times we fall upon as we live. These can be happy or sad events, by the way. The point is these experiences can take up a lot of our mental energy and then how do we have anything left over for writing?
Transition times such as the ending of a relationship, the birth of a child, caring for an aging parent, a child going off to college, or losing a job can affect our abilities to easily access our creative selves. Then there are the shorter term disappointments like a rejection letter, low contest scores, a bad review, or a minor illness that sap our energy.
The presenter of the workshop discussed how he used a journaling technique called Morning Pages to cope with his grief, but in the process, he also awakened an artist within. In the past few years, he has published books of poetry, sculpted pieces and sold them, and does woodworking. Although he worked in a very technical field, he was exposed to art and creative expression through his wife who was a painter. She held classes on creativity at their home and taught from Julie Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way”. http://www.theartistsway.com/
The book is written for anyone of any profession to help them learn to remove blocks to creativity when it is stifled by life events, at least this is my understanding. I haven’t read the book, but I plan to check it out. The conference speaker described the process as “purging” the brain of thoughts and feelings that are blocking creativity.
Here are the basic guidelines for Morning Pages: 1. Pages are to be written first thing in the morning.
2. Write three full pages in longhand each time.
3. It is a stream of consciousness exercise. It’s okay if it’s silly, weird, self-pitying, angry, petty. It doesn’t matter. Just get it out.
4. Write for no one else’s eyes. No censoring. This isn’t meant to be art or even pretty.
5. Don’t go back and read the pages for at least two months.
6. Never skip a day, even if all you write is “This stinks. I hate it. I don’t know what to say.”
7. Morning Pages are not meant to be the only writing you do in this time. If it opens up a door, go with it.
Do you have any methods of unlocking your creativity? Or have you ever gone through a period of time when you found it hard to access your creativity?