Posted On 17 Oct 2009
Given that we are naturally creative, it may seem odd to think about creativity training. The difficulty comes because we unintentionally block our own creativity.
The chief way that we retard our own creativity is by thinking too much. Instead of relaxing and letting our instincts respond appropriately to novel circumstances, we get stuck in our heads.
The best kind of creativity training is mastering a breathing (spiritual) practice such as zazen meditation. There is nothing better at vacating, emptying, the mind, nothing better at getting unstuck.
I’ve discovered another kind of creativity training, namely, “morning pages,” if you wish to supplement or replace a breathing practice. Like zazen meditation, it’s very simple.
Unlike zazen meditation, is also easy and of limited duration. The catch, however, is that you must do it each morning, without fail, for ninety days. If you are unwilling to do that with no excuses, don’t bother with morning pages at all.
I learned about morning pages from THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron with Mark Bryan. She claims it is “the primary tool of creative recovery.” Again, we are all naturally creative. We must be or we would be unable to solve the problems presented by the ceaseless flux in which we live. So the task of creativity training is simply to uncover what is already there.
Here is the practice of morning pages: write three pages, single-spaced, of longhand writing each morning when you arise that is strictly steam of consciousness. That’s all there is to it!
You may use a spiral notebook or a loose-leaf binder. The pages should be standard size, namely, 8 1/2 by 11 inches, with narrow (college ruled) lines. As soon as you write your three pages each morning, put them away for at least a couple of months, in other words, do not look at them for at least sixty days.
Do not show them to anyone else. (If you know you are going to do that, you will censor your writing, which will prevent it from being stream of consciousness.)
Fill three whole pages without fail each morning for a minimum of three months.
You may write about anything at all. Much of what you write may be negative or petty or inconsequential. Feel free to be whiny, bitter, or even angry. Feel free to be hopeful. It is even alright to be delusional! Any topic is acceptable. You can always write about your friends or relatives, or, even the weather.
It may not be easy at first, but it will become easier with daily practice. Just make yourself do it. The more difficult you find it initially, the more it may unblock you. Those who find it a difficult habit to establish often benefit the most from establishing it. Believe it or not, you may unleash so much valuable creativity that you may decide to do morning pages every morning for the rest of your life!
Morning pages work to nurture creativity because they are an effective way of freeing yourself from the tyranny of your own thoughts. Writing your thoughts down enables you to get rid of them. This is especially true if you have, like most people, an inner perfectionist censor who is always belittling or mocking you. That censor’s statements are false, and writing them down enables you to free yourself from them.
You should be skeptical or questioning about morning pages! That’s good. Please do not, however, be stuck on negativity. Test them for yourself.
How good would you feel if you force yourself to use a simple daily tactic for three months and it turns out to unleash an enormous amount of your spontaneous originality? Try it. You’ll discover that it is excellent creativity training, and you’ll be very pleased that you tried it.