Why Every Artist Should Journal

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises artists to do what she calls “Morning Pages.” It requires getting up a half hour earlier each morning and writing three pages by hand. The idea is to write without editing, putting onto paper any and every thing on your mind, getting it out of your system before starting the day.

It feels silly at first, but it helps you get in touch with you you are and what you want, understanding what’s really important and reminding yourself. Sure, some of your writings will seem whiny, but that’s OK — you’re getting it out of your system.

Keep this journaling private, even from yourself. Put it away for six weeks. It’s amazing how much clearer things will be when you look at it later. It’s 20/20 hindsight in action. You’ll have better perspective on what’s important and what’s not, seeing more plainly what requires action and what has taught you something.

Sometimes solutions to problems will present themselves in these early-morning freeform writing sessions. You may figure out how to resolve a painting, or realize how to deal with a certain person in your life. Be open-minded, and these things will come to you when you least expect it.

Not all of us can journal each morning. It’s an excellent habit, to be sure. I did it pretty much every single day for about a year. For a long time I have journaled about once or twice a week at different times in the day, and have just recently begun doing morning pages again. It’ll take a while to get back in the habit, but I can already see some rewards coming of it. At any rate, the main point is to get down on paper what’s in your head — do an emotional brain dump.

What are your journaling techniques? What has worked for you?

4 Comments. Add your own below.

  1. […] Morning Pages are another form of showing up. (In fact, I think Julia Cameron uses the phrase “showing up at the page” in her book The Artist’s Way.) You show up and you write, dumping out everything that’s in your mind and on your chest, stream-of-conscious style. Showing up like this also gives you the benefit of figuring out what you really need to be doing. […]

  2. […] can’t help but be reminded of the two main practices put forth in The Artist’s Way: The Morning Pages and The Artist’s Dates. The former is more about sending signals (to yourself, ultimately) […]

  3. […] is, I’ve been actively journaling about ten or eleven years now. It started out as Morning Pages (as outlined in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) but I got away from that and […]

  4. […] get moving. I wrote about it a lot on my old Mysterious Flame blog, especially in this post about why artists should journal and this one about Refilling the Well and Reigniting Creativity, until I discovered the next book […]

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