My New Morning Practice to Nurture Creativity

I have an amendment to my previous post. I, in fact, have been very good at getting up each morning and doing a work out, (and changing my clothes twice in the morning) and, more importantly, another thing I have added to the start of my day is Morning Pages. I picked up Julia Camerons book The Artist’s Way, the book that introduced Morning Pages as a daily practice, and having recently searched it out at my local used book store, I have begun working through it.

I’ve been familiar with Morning Pages for some time; The Artist’s Way workbook has been out since 1992, but I never took a look at it-for whatever reason. Too busy with the mechanics of married life, working, etc. It’s now I felt I could benefit from this book in helping with not only my writing, but to facilitate an overall reconnection to my creative yearnings after suppressing them so long.

Beginning with the first week of Tasks in the workbook, I discovered it is exactly what I needed at the right time. I much prefer starting my day with this, rather than a work-out. Doing the Pages and working through the workbook provides an avenue for beginning my day in a creative flow, sets the right tone that creativity comes first, ideas come first, insights come first. Mind before body.

I have always “journaled,” since the age of fourteen, but doing it as a Morning Pages practice feels different. There is a type of intention in it. So each morning I rise early , 6 am or so, and the first thing I do- pour a cup of coffee and set down to write three 8″x11″ pages of stream of consciousness writing. Then my work-out, shower, then breakfast at 9:30 or 10.

I think this is what I’ve been struggling with. Reading over what I’ve written in that previous post, I now realize that the “domestic” work needn’t dominate the day- those tasks will always be there to do, never changing in their nature. So do them when time allows, but the creative work is the priority because it has the of risk slipping away from us if not well nurtured and attended to. It has something of a “shelf Life.”

I’ve only just now begun Week Two of the twelve-week workbook, so it’s all still a new endeavour. So far I look forward to the Pages each morning and have even noticed some humble synchronicities and serendipitous effects since beginning the workbook. Of course these serendipitous episodes may have always been happening, perhaps I wasn’t “tuned in” enough before to notice. I think probably.

I’m curious to experience any shifts in insight over these next weeks, and so far, with Week One down, it’s feeling beneficial in general.

Scheduling my time is still in process, but I think instead of the word Scheduling I will use Committing.  Things are falling into place ~

 

 

How to time manage a creative life

I’m not a great candidate for strict routine or habits. Which could be a character deficit when faced with the many things I want to accomplish each week. I prefer to follow “leanings.” Left to my own devices and left alone in general, I usually allow an activity or project to find me. Like, when I had accidentally discovered a fascinating effect on my laptop Photo Booth app one night. (while alone, so left to my own devices as I said). I had stumbled upon an exciting photography tool that could be so creatively employed for artistic expression, was so excited by it and engaged this app so rigorously I wore it out. It no longer does what it was doing before. I may have to buy a new laptop. I did gather a sizeable portfolio to work with though, but that app is toast.

I have much that bids for my attention. Painting, drawing, making something in clay, writing, practicing music, editing photographs, practicing Spanish, yoga, reading, or making/baking food to contribute to my sorely neglected food blog. And I’m married. And he is also retired, and now home, all. the. time. I need to acknowledge my spouse every so often, and feed him. (this isn’t a feminist issue, I’m a better cook, although he makes a fantastic curry chicken.) I can’t just bury myself away in my rainbow room of creative projects and ignore him hours and hours at a time.

Then there’s the house. This morning I was making a batch of apple chutney, and looking up into the stove’s hood vent, and noticing the thin layer of grease inside the hood, thus discovered where all the fruit flies that came in with my backyard grapes disappeared to. None fell into the chutney in case you’re wondering.

There is work to do in the yard like rebuilding that dilapidated back garden gate, and gathering material for making raised vegetable beds, cleaning and organizing the shed, taking stuff to the recycling centre. All the domestic stuff that, you know, those without hired housekeepers or hired gardeners have to attend. There are the sojourns by boat to town to shop for groceries.

The drama.

By rights any clear thinking organized person would in fact set up a type of schedule; to ensure especially that time is devoted to creative work. To prioritize. And I have tried that, starting with the mundane: a morning work out. I get as far as every morning I will rise and do my 25 minute weight work out before breakfast. And I will, for a couple of weeks. I acknowledge to myself how good I feel doing this, how energized my body feels and prepares me for the day. Then, one morning I’ll get up and think that I don’t particularly like changing my clothes twice in the morning.

Because, of course, I wear “work out” clothes to work out in, then after a shower, I have to dress all over again. Some mornings I wake up and think, I just want to get dressed in the clothes I’m going to wear for the day and go downstairs and start my day with a project, right off. No sweating first thing in the  morning. But the fact remains that I need the work-out and I do feel so much better physically in doing it. Starting my day with the work-out I feel helps me begin my day with some vigour at least. I know, the stupid preoccupations of a retired person. And it’s not like I don’t have time to change my clothes twice in the morning.

Then I’m stymied by wondering if I should work outside first, while there is daylight, then spend afternoons and evenings with inside projects. But, by the afternoon and working outside I am too physically tired to think in creative terms-like ok, now I’ll go downstairs to my studio and work up a painting, or get on the wheel and throw a mug. Before having to prep and cook dinner. Ugh, I know this  is such self indulgent mental pre-school!

I think now that I have that freedom to do the work I want to do, rather than the stuff I have to do that once required a schedule, ie: going to my job in town each morning, gives the illusion I no longer need to follow a schedule. But it’s increasingly apparent I do still need to have something, the very least a quasi-firm guideline, some form of time management.

 

 

 

Does Cleaning Kill Creativity?

Cleaning is a distraction. It is a necessary duty, true, but to clean house is a big time suck. And it is a repeated action that does not cumulate in an end product. As if painting a wall or putting up a gate, well that’s done once and for all- moving on. You are never done with house work, oh no, that activity will be revisited time after time- no, moment after moment. Okay, for a short –short- time perhaps the act of cleaning can have a reward of everything polished and tidy, even smelling good. Hands can be wiped and all in the domain once again resembles an ordered universe. As long as no one moves. As soon as a chair is pulled out, a drawer opened, a glass of milk filled, a meal made, the build up begins all over again.

And it’s only the two of us in the house.

I have this thing where I can’t begin a creative project unless my surroundings are tidy. Even if my creative project will take place in another area – down in my studio for instance, which can be in some comfortable level of disorder. My home on the other hand; the kitchen, bathroom, living room, etc must be in good shape. My bed is made before I leave the room. Before coffee for Petes sake.

If I am going to work outside in the garden in the morning, before I do, first my house has to be in order- I move from inside to outside. So that when I’m done outside I come inside into a tidy home. I am relaxed. Not confronted with a house to now clean. I exhaust myself.

No leaving dirty dishes. Anywhere. No leaving dinner dishes till the morning. Sacrilege. Such a heart sinking way to begin your day welcomed by a pile of last nights dishes! The kitchen must be clean at all times. I think this might be that when entering my home you come directly through the middle of my kitchen. I mean through, as in walking between the stove on one side, sink on the other side. Yeah, I can’t sequester a messy kitchen out of site of anyone. So I’ve become a little OCD about it.

So anyway, it’s annoying. Not sure if this is more prevalent in women than men- but I’d wager it probably is. And sometimes by the time I’m done cleaning, the creative juice is drained. I know, I know, I have to turn it around. Turn a blind eye to the dust on the glass coffee table, the floor my feet are sticking to, the faint ring around the toilet bowl and make creative work the priority. Do that work first, then tackle the mundane.

I remain ever diligent on the road to recovery ~Although this morning  before finishing this post I had to vacuum. And clean my kitchen. I’ll get there.