Monday 21 October 2019

How to write daily - The Artists Way by Julia Cameron - FIND THE OTHERS 001

I share things which have helped me to get ideas out of my head and into action.

The Artists Way has 12 chapters, with one chapter per week.
In this video, I show you how I write my morning pages - what do morning pages look like? And some of the other exercises in the book.

How to WRITE DAILY | Morning Pages The Artists Way | FIND THE OTHERS 001

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It's brilliant to beat procrastination, and also figuring out your long term goals for yourself.

Hello I'm in London but none of this video is set here.
I want to talk to you about a book that has changed my life.
So I've been putting off making this video for about three or four months and it's kind of what the book is about
I'll put it on the side of the screen here...
It's called The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

I've been putting it off because I thought this video might involve me talking a lot and I could talk about this book all day long so I thought I'd make this video maybe a bit more lively.

I'm scared that if I'm just doing talking that you won't find it useful and I think I'm holding back from sharing this because it's helped me to get so many ideas out of my head and into action

I want to share them with you right here on this playlist - whoa - it's up in the corner of the screen if you click on the "i" and it's in the description below

I think I'll call it FIND THE OTHERS - that's all I'm trying to do is just find the others but this is the first one that I wanted to tackle.

It is... this is the actual book - it's not graphic - it is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.
Oh my goodness I know this is going to be a very long video so let's just embrace that
I think this is at the top of my list because this has had the biggest impact on me getting stuff out of my head and out into the world.

It's a very gentle book - it's 12 chapters and it's a very easy read
And each chapter is - just trying to find one - each chapter is a week and that's significant
So it's effectively a 12-week course

How can I put this... I'm from the UK so maybe one way to describe it is Californian?
Where it's about just accepting that you have thoughts and feelings and things that you might be completely unaware of - that are blocking you from being creative

So the idea of the book is you do these exercises - they're very easy - I found them good fun - but there are these writing exercises and you complete one chapter every week that's all you've got to do
I liked this so much while I was reading it that I found myself skipping ahead which got a bit tricky because I was supposed to be doing exercises in one week, but I'm still reading ahead just because I enjoyed the, the, reading - I enjoyed the prose

There are two big ideas in this book which are introduced in week one or chapter one and these two big ideas are morning pages and the artists date
The morning pages are something else

I'm going to show you what they are by actually showing you MY morning pages which you're not supposed to do.

So the idea of morning pages is this - when you wake up in the morning before you do anything - before you check your email or scroll through Facebook - the first thing you should do in the morning is to sit down with a pad and fill three pages
It takes about half an hour
I think she's writing in the US legal pad size because I started mine in A5 - this really nice A5 book - and I think that's a bit bit small so took it about five pages.
OR half an hour whichever comes first
And the idea of morning pages is that you basically free write what's in your head
Literally word for word what's coming up in your brain

So that could be... "I don't know what to write"
"I don't want to do this"
"I don't like my pen"
"I'm too hot"
"Thingy looked at me funny yesterday, what's that about?"
"I haven't paid the gas bill."
"I haven't changed gas supplier."
All of that junk - just get it out of your head.
The only objective of the morning pages is to keep the pen moving
I've got a pencil

Keep the pen moving for half an hour and I found some techniques over time that when I started daydreaming... or going off on one in my head... if you just write the word "thinking" in brackets and then try and get the pen moving again that helped for me.

But all you've got to do is fill three pages - obviously she explains it way more better than I am but I wanted to show you my morning pages, because the other thing with morning pages is you are not supposed to show them to anyone.
They are not for anyone else - the sole objective is to just get you to keep the pen moving and dump out what's in your head continuously for 30 minutes.

What I found was that stuff started coming out that I just wasn't expecting.
Things that you're supposed to do today emerge, and you might launch into writing out an email... bits of your to-do list...
But the other fantastic thing for me was the ideas that have been bubbling up in your head - have a place to go - you can just get them out of your head.
They're not supposed to be good.

Some people call it "journaling" and I really don't think that's a good idea to call it journaling because that gives the impression that you're writing a diary and it might be that you write about stuff that happened to you yesterday or things that you might do tomorrow but it's not journaling.
It's got to be junk.

You've got to write rubbish.
It's whatever comes up in your head.
Don't make it good, don't give a structure
Just... sometimes broken half sentences come out
That's okay, so long as you keep the pen moving
Now... I'm sort of worried about holding this up
I've vetted this.

Aww, look at the day it's the 27th of August and - cover it up - it's the 27th of August so I've been holding on to this to share with you for oh my goodness six weeks now
But as you can see it's really messy

So I started off with a really nice 1.0mm gel impact signo pen and I had a really nice Paper Chase A5 eco spiral bound notebook and that was great because the ink soaked up into the page really nice - it just felt really nice - so treat yourself to some nice stationery

But over time I found that the more workman like I was about it because I'm just literally draining pens onto a page - it's not writing - it's free writing - so it's it's junk it's got to come out as quickly as possible, just keep that pen moving.
And what I found some ideas kept popping up
Sometimes I would get ideas for executing those ideas
These pages tap into things that you don't realize that you're thinking about but these things are in your brain.
And there is such a release in... to just getting out on the page and then getting rid of it
I read through it and I tear it up, and I throw it away.

I started writing in volume
I've been doing this for about five years before I read the book
I'd heard about the morning pages.
Because I hadn't read the book I thought "well I'll type them" because it will start me typing every morning
So I try to type a side of A4 every morning

It turns out the problem with that is that subconsciously I think I'm holding stuff back, because you're typing... maybe there's a formality to it... maybe because you know it's being electronically stored and hoarded?
The pages were different as soon as I started handwriting them all this stuff started coming out that I wasn't expecting.
And you don't actually have to sit down and write good stuff.
All it is is just dumping out what's in your brain
Have I said that enough times?
It's dumping out what's in your brain.

So then I had a new problem and what new problem was I had all this stuff that I didn't really want to keep, because it can be quite whiny and petulant or maybe it's just my pages... but my pages were quite whiny and petulant
And the book is very clear to say "that's okay, that's what they're for" just dump out what's in your head
So now I have this this new problem which is that stuff in here which I really liked and which made me happy - like sentences or ideas or fully formed articles or emails that just vomited out
I didn't have anywhere to put them and I didn't want to hoard all my writing
I just wanted to keep the bits that made me happy
So what I started to do is to box out - don't know if you can see this - box it out the bit that you like.
That's actually a quote... it's a quote from the Kransky Sisters:
"Set it free. If it comes back it will only bore."
"If you want something... set it free.
If it comes back it bores.
So just set it free."
But ironically that is what this... this part of the explanation's about.

So I've got my Biro.
I now write in biro because you can always find a biro from an Express supermarket if you're out and about and you don't have a pen.
So I box out the bit that I want - and then I mark from right to left the bits that I've read
So a new task emerged: I was actually reading what I was writing in volume, and now I'm writing in volume, now I'm reading my own stuff in volume... and then I get the bit that I want and I put that somewhere
Now before starting morning pages I had about seven documents where I would keep material - so it's good in terms of volume but I honestly didn't know where to start when I would start writing each day
Is it, you know, which of the seven documents do I... do I create a new one?
Or do I maintain these other seven that I wasn't reading either
I was just putting stuff into these documents and they weren't really going anywhere
So it felt really good to solve this problem of volume by creating one document so now I have one Word document called "2019"

You might be watching this in years to come so you could call it 2020?
Only recently I've now moved that document into the cloud so I can update it from anywhere so I've got that on Google Docs
Just one document and I just add to the bottom
So this document is full of bits that make me happy and ideas and things that I want to keep.
They're back here - so here's 2019 and it's one single document of all my stuff
I sit down in that armchair with a cup of coffee and just go through ideas that I've already written and I make them better or share them but they've got one place to go

It was fantastic to not be hoarding whiney petulance that needs editing.
So basically edit it as you go
So once I've typed up the bit that I want to keep in my 2019 document... I then put a line through it that way... Tear it out and I throw it away
I've typed up the bits I want to keep - the rest "thank you for your service"
Throw it away.

It is such a great little system for me
Every morning before I do anything, I sit down with my notebook - these are today's
I don't want to show them to you
I turn to the next clean page... write the day at the top... maybe the time
I set the timer on my phone for 30 minutes and I just start writing whatever is in my head for 30 minutes
Sometimes I keep going
Sometimes it's really hard and I stop and it's a bit juddery so then the half hour is spent just trying to get the pen moving again

I've been doing this hand written for three years
I don't really want to count the 6 years before that typing - and it has just helped me enormously
It's just like this tsunami of material just comes out and I know the other benefit of it is that I can not worry about if I get an idea or something pops into my brain that I don't want to forget I just bang it into the notebook on the next line
I know it's going to be backed up and also I know about once every six weeks I'll have a nice time sat down with a coffee going through things that I've thought of
It's just such a great system

The Artist's Way doesn't propose doing it that way - all she's trying to get you to do is to write for half an hour every morning before you do anything else but I found that that then opened up this portal of stuff that gave me the new problem of having somewhere to store it and a system to go through those ideas and do something with them
But even the idea for that came from the morning pages
I wish I could get sponsorship from PaperChase
I've done 46 of these books which I think is about 1.5 million words
And if I had to sit down and write 1.5 million words over three years I think I'd feel slightly overwhelmed
But morning pages - we just keep the pen moving for half an hour for me it's it's a treat
It's my bit of the day

If you can find half an hour to do your pages things will start happening
So I'll just leave that with you because it might be something you want to try
The second idea that Julia Cameron proposes in the Artists Way - is the idea of an Artist Date.
I think I found that to be the biggest hardest thing in the book
She very gently floats the idea that once a week you take yourself somewhere
You go do something nice, something that's pointless - something makes you happy.
Her only stipulation is that you do it by yourself and you just mark out that time for you and it needn't be the whole day it could be a 10-minute trip somewhere

I didn't do it for a few weeks and then I did start doing it and it's it's fantastic it's a really nice thing to do for yourself so it does kick-start a process where you start exploring things things that you probably assume that you're too busy to do or too important or that the thing that you're doing is too silly...
This book will try to get you to do that - again she explains it way more better than than I can
Those are the only two things: morning pages and Artists Date - that you will do every week - if you go along with the 12 weeks and the 12 chapters.

The rest of it that she sets little writing exercises: they are really easy to do
If you are writing out what's in your head every day is then easy to slip into trying out some of the other things that she suggests and you don't have to do all of them
I did and they're still benefiting me now

I can't recommend it highly enough but it is one of those things that you're just gonna have to see if it's for you.
But I think even having a go at the first week isn't going to take your life backwards or make you unhappy.
So that's it!

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