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The Artist’s Way – Unlocking Subconscious Creativity

Jackrabbit Design October 25, 2011 Productivity 2 Comments

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The effects of this time of the year are inevitable. I wake up in the dark and return home in the dark, have a sudden dependency on pumpkin spice lattes and experience my first winter-related sickness.  The holidays are right around the corner and I’m already starting to form mental “to-do” lists and plans for conquering them all.  In the past, as this time of the year approached and stress tended to increase, I often found myself lacking some serious creative juice.  That is, before I discovered a book that changed the way I thought about being creative.

The Book That Changed It All

In my graduate program we had to take a mandatory creativity class.  Coming from a graphic design background I was so excited to begin the semester on a familiar note. I couldn’t wait to train myself to be creative on a consistent basis and snuff out “the lightening bolt” effect of bursts of creativity. During one of the first classes we were required to read a chapter from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way- A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” on the concept of “Morning Pages” and begin the exercises.  Don’t let the Spiritual Path part fool you. This read is chocked full of concrete information about creativity, sans all the fluffy stuff.

The Art of Morning Pages

“Morning Pages” is an exercise concept based on waking up and writing scribbling three pages of whatever comes to your head in a conscious stream of thought.  You can write about a dream, what you are going to eat for breakfast, why the sky is blue, etc.  The subject of your morning pages doesn’t really matter as much as the fact that you are engaging in the process.  You should do it every single day (whether you want to or not) as soon as you wake up and never re-read the entries.  All this and more is explained in detail in the book with some solid reasoning behind it.

The driving force behind Morning Pages is that it helps to battle your “Censor.”

Your Censor is the little voice in your head that likes to say things like “I’m a terrible writer,” “I have nothing to write about,” “I can’t fill three pages,” and “Why am I always writing the same thing.”

Consider the Censor your negative chip-on-the-shoulder voice that doesn’t allow you to fully develop ideas before you shoot them down yourself.  Morning Pages eliminates this voice because you have to write three pages, you don’t have to write about anything specific and you can’t go back and “judge” what you wrote.

From Skeptic to Believer

Now, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical at first.  Three pages every single morning about nothing is going to make me more creative? I highly doubted it.  By the fact that I am writing this article I’m sure you have guessed that I was, of course, sadly mistaken.  I started writing the pages and found that I thought clearer during the day.  I made unique, interesting connections in my advertising class and the ideas just kept on coming.  I started to become more positive about lots of other things in life, not just creativity, which I suppose is where the spiritual part of the book comes in.  I took on new, extra projects in my program and began a research blog.  Basically, I was an idea-making machine.

The Need to Rejuice

While Cameron suggests writing every single day, regardless of how you feel, I can admit to taking hiatuses from the practice.  Whenever I feel like I can’t overcome a creative block or my head is swirling with tasks I begin writing the pages and within a week or two things seem to work themselves out.  Many people have embraced this concept and I encourage you to pick up the book and give it a shot.  Jenna Fischer of the hit show The Office even credits it to landing her role on the sitcom.  Any brave souls willing to do a week test and report back with the results? How do you remain creative when things get crazy?

Psssst! You can read an excerpt from the book on Amazon for free (start reading on page 10!).


  • David December 7, 2011

    Believe it! I remember as a freshman architecture student at Texas A&M University, we had a design lab with a similar book on how to jump start the creative juices. Wish I could remember the name of the book!!! At 53, think I need a book on memory as much as creativity! ;+() I will find out and revisit your blog with the book title.

  • Amy January 15, 2012

    Actually, after four weeks, Julia recommends that you go back and re-read what you have written and notice what you are complaining about and what you write about that you want or need to do. (I hate my job, I hate my job, I hate my job…hmmm maybe I should quit my job) (I wish I had more time to paint, I wish I painted more, I used to love painting…hmmm maybe I should pick up the paint brush)

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