With Julia Cameron
Three pages, unedited, stream of consciousness writing every morning. They’re called morning pages. They’re a tool for unblocking your creativity, from Julia Cameron’s best-selling book, The Artist’s Way.
Morning pages changed my life. I think they are better than any therapist or coach or self-help book. Morning pages are healing. They undo stuck places inside yourself. When you write the morning pages, you’ll discover that they have an intelligence of their own. If you stick with them long enough, you’ll know that all your answers are truly within you. You’ll learn how to trust yourself more and see how eerily accurate your intuition can be.
The Artist’s Way is not just for artists. It’s for anyone who values a higher path and having inner guidance. It more than unblocks your creativity, it unblocks your life!
After a phone interview with Julia Cameron, I learned that The Artist’s Way was initially rejected by her literary agent who said, “Julia, no one’s going to be interested in a book about creativity. Go back to being a screenwriter.”
But Cameron did not go back to being a screenwriter, at least, not right away. She first started writing the morning pages after she directed her first feature film, “God’s will,” one that received negative reviews as the “ex-wife of Martin Scorsese.” She found herself in Taos, a small spiritual town in New Mexico, where she rented a small adobe house to recover and write. Cameron would get up every morning and write three pages of anything that came to her, “well, there’s a big cloud in front of me.”
Writing three pages every morning encouraged Cameron’s creativity and led her through her own creative ventures. She figured if writing three pages worked well for her, they would work well for others. And they did.
Cameron tells me that fortunately she’s stubborn. She fought for The Artist’s Way and found another agent who believed in her book. It led her to Jeremy Tarcher, a publisher, who she is still with today, and has published 30 books with. Artist’s Way has sold over 4 million copies.
Cameron says it’s important to fight for your creativity. That’s why she wrote the Artist’s Way, to encourage artists to believe in themselves. It’s her life’s message to help people unblock and channel their creativity.
In the following interview, award-winning artist, Julia Cameron, talks about writing, her life, and the creative process.
How did you come to writing and falling in love with it?
I grew up in a house full of words. We had two libraries in my house, one for some pop fiction and one for classics. My parents were both readers and writers, and so it was a natural thing for me.
What is a typical day like for Julia Cameron?
Today is a typical day. I get up and I make myself oatmeal and coffee. Then I start my morning pages. After that, I write out a series of prayers, basically asking God to guard and guide me and my beloveds. If I have an interview, I do that. After that, I turn myself to whatever writing is going on. Right now I’m writing a book on creativity and retirement.
What’s your favorite writing environment?
I have a small adobe house with a writing room. It’s an octagonal room filled with windows that juts out into the fir trees. I have a favorite writing chair, which is a big leather chair with a hassock. Myself and my little dog Lily both write there.
Do you think where you live and your environment affect the way you create?
I think morning pages keep your creativity going at an even pace. It doesn’t really matter if you live in Manhattan or Santa Fe, as long as you’re being true to your guidance, you’re gonna be fine.
Have you ever had metaphysical or physical experiences during writing?
Metaphysical experiences are commonplace with writing. I write morning pages, which is an Artist’s Way tool, and when I do that, I get hunches of what I need to do next.
Do you have any special rituals for your creative process?
I do an exercise from the Artist’s Way called, “blasting through blocks.” It’s an exercise where you write your angers, fears and resentments about the piece of work you’re about to start. Then I share it with a good friend. I find that very powerful.
Which book are you most proud of?
I wrote a book that I loved called, The Sound of Paper. Not very many people have read it, unfortunately.
Do you have any thoughts about the shift in consciousness that is happening in the world, and how it may shift our ideas of creativity and spirituality?
I can’t address the whole world, but I can say that 4 million people are working The Artist’s Way. They do their morning pages and they become more comfortable in the world and also more daring. As they become comfortable and daring, they make an impact. A lot of times people think, “I’m only one person and the world is big and overwhelming. And what can I possibly do?” When you start doing morning pages, you start doing what you could possibly do.
I notice that the morning pages tends to accelerate your life, and there’s an intensity that goes along with that. How would you advise someone going through that?
They do accelerate your life. That’s why there are three tools: the morning pages, artist’s dates and walking. They don’t so much put a brake on the acceleration as they do make you more comfortable being accelerated.
What has been your biggest creative block?
I have an inner critic, a sensor, whom I call Nigel. Nigel in my imagination is a gay interior decorator, who is British. Nothing I ever do is good enough for Nigel. I think all of us have our Nigels and sometimes people come to me and they want me to eradicate their censor. The censor never goes away, unfortunately. But we can learn how to work with it.
You had spoken a few times about dreams of being a Director. How do you feel about possibly looking at that dream again?
I find myself trying to make peace with the way my life has turned out. I could say, “gee, I’d like to direct again,” but I don’t have any film that I’m burning to direct, and I do have books that I’m burning to write. Do you know the work of the late Nora Ephron? She wrote books and directed films. Nora had a career that I think I would have enjoyed having, and Nora probably wished she had mine.
What does prayer mean to you?
I pray every night. I do it by reading two books, Ernest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind, it’s called, This Thing Called You. It has wonderful prayers in it. The other book is a book that I wrote myself and it’s called, Prayers to the Great Creator. It’s an anthology of 4 different prayer books. I open the book at random and I find myself thinking, “who wrote these??”
I’ve been working on a musical. We had it put up in Chicago a couple years ago and it was a bad production. I was heartbroken. Now I’ve decided to go back and try and see if I can make it better. So what’s up for me now is circling back and saying “if I believed in myself and I believed in my musical, what would it be like?”
If you had one message you could share with people, what would that be?
Write morning pages.