Since a large part of the impetus for me launching the .org in 2000 was my first go-through of The Artist’s Way, I wrote about it so much in the early days of this website that it almost became a form of self-parody. Even now that I’m teaching The Artist’s Way workshops through the Continuing Education department of our parent campus, sometimes I wonder if I’ve given the programme an outsized role in my development over the past two decades. One thing is for sure, though: Without doing The Artist’s Way, I wouldn’t have over twenty-one years of daily journals to look back on one of these days, if I eventually manage to live a life worth writing memoirs about.
Julia Cameron refers to this writing as “Morning Pages,” but I’ve thought of it as daily journaling for most of the past two decades. Every morning, after breakfast and the bare minimum of activities necessary for me to ground myself in the start of the day, I return to bed to write three pages, longhand, about the things I’ve done since the last time I wrote, my plans for the coming day, and the concerns I have going forward about, well, everything. Last month marked the twenty-first anniversary of me writing my first Morning Pages, and while I haven’t always performed other components of The Artist’s Way so well, I have yet to miss a single day of those pages. From the house fire of 2001, to the deaths of both my parents, to all the moving I’ve done over the past few years, I have always made time to write at the start of every day. Beyond just having that accomplishment to remind myself of what I’m capable of, those pages continue to help me put words to the problems I’m having and assist me in coming up with solutions to those problems. I’m not going to say that I wouldn’t keep doing them if they weren’t working so well for me, but the fact that they continue to do so, even after all this time, certainly gives me good reason to stick with them.
These pages normally take me somewhere between fifty to sixty minutes to write out. I’ve done them in half an hour before — needing to get them in before I check out of a hotel room when I’m traveling definitely lights a spark under me — but for all the time I spend writing, it usually helps if I take some breaks in there to think, not just about what I want to write, but also any new observations that come from me putting my thoughts down on paper like that. Sometimes they can take a lot longer than an hour for various reasons, such as when I’m sick and need to keep taking care of the symptoms of my illness, but it’s rare for me to need much more than sixty minutes to finish those pages off and start the rest of my day.
This past Friday and Saturday, though, it took me hours to get the pages done. I wasn’t sick, and I wasn’t feeling particularly off, but I felt like I’d lost all focus there, and I couldn’t pull my brain out of the various daydreams it kept wanting to explore. Daydreaming is an important activity for me, and it’s been very useful for me in a lot of my projects, but when it starts interfering with my ability to finish journaling with enough time left in the day to do all the other things I want to do, that can create huge problems. Granted, I’m not teaching right now, so if I’m ever going to have this problem then now is as good of a time as any to work through it, but I think I have good reason to worry about how my brain was behaving on those two days.
I wish I had a better conclusion to come to here than just saying that I was probably having this problem because I’ve got so much on my mind right now, but there’s probably not much more to it than that. Between the new turns the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, concerns for the coming school year, and the personal issues I’ve been dealing with over the past few months (some of which, like my car situation, still need to be resolved), I’ve got lots to daydream about and puzzle through, and I think my brain just reached its limit late last week and forced me to take a lot of extra time there to work through things.
Since then, I’ve been getting my Morning Pages done in close to an hour or so, and I’m glad for that, but I don’t feel like I’ve gotten any of my major issues resolved. Maybe my brain just got tired of all the daydreaming, especially since it wasn’t yielding any significant solutions to my problems, and decided to get back on task in the mornings. Whatever the case, as useful as my journaling is to me, I hope I don’t keep taking so long to get it done every day. If I’m going to solve these problems, I need all the time I can get to work on them.