Monday, August 3, 2009

Writing past the Summertime Blahs

When I first came across Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, I loved her morning pages but was stymied by Artist Dates. Cameron recommends we stuck creative artists spend an hour a week out and alone somewhere new, exploring a museum or craft store, walking in a park or by a river, just to fill the creative well.

Sometimes writers face a flatness in summer, when it's hot and the writing is not. I've found NOT writing a great way to get started again--but the NOT writing has to contain something to fill the well, a la Julia Cameron's Artist Dates.

This week's exercise encourages you to go on an hour's vacation from your normal life--work, family, home, endless to-do lists--and visit a creatively inspiring place. Let your racing mind slow down. Stare at museum exhibits or paintings. Watch the breeze in the trees. But don't write. Not a word. Force yourself to stop your output and just input for a while. Instead of all the endless exhaling of energy, fill yourself with new breath.
Sounds silly, simple, stupid? Not at all. Your right brain will start engaging, seeing and hearing and smelling things your busy left brain has forgotten to notice. These small details are what fills the creative well.
Part two of the exercise: After you come back from your Artist Date, sit for ten minutes and record impressions. Nothing big, just little ideas, sensations, thoughts, memories that come now that you're refreshed. Scribbling is good. Drawing is even better. Let the images flow onto the paper. Make it fun, easy. No pressure here.

I've come to my best writing ideas by doing this deliberate break. It takes me off the production wheel and really fills the well.
See if it works for you! It might help you write past the summertime blahs.