Posted by: Beth | 2010/02/11

Day 3 – The Basic Tools

I started out by rereading the Basic Principles as instructed by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.

And then I moved on to the next chapter, The Basic Tools.  As I first start reading about the morning pages I’m thinking okay, I can probably write three pages a day.  Brain drain, that sounds good.  OH, wait a minute!  Go back.  Reread that!  

the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness

At least she says there is no wrong way to do morning pages.  Bet if I typed them it would be a wrong way!  LOL!  I very rarely write by longhand anymore.  1) because I can’t write as fast as I can type, 2) I’m so used to not writing by hand that writing by hand gives me a handcramp, and 3) the main reason, you can’t password protect handwritten material!!!  Okay, Beth, get a grip!  You are not 15 or even 30 any more.  No one is going to be searching through your house to read some scribbled dribble that flows out of your brain.  My journal for this year is about 5″x7″.  Wonder if that means I need to write six pages.  I can write huge on 8″x10″ paper or I can write small on 5″x7″ paper.  Stop making this more difficult than it is!   Geesh!  Certainly fits with what she says next –

“The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery.  As blocked artists, we tend to criticize ourselves mercilessly.” 

LOL!  Ya think?  I think this woman has been in my head!  She’s met Censor!  She apparently knows him well.  I have no idea why I consider Censor a him.  When I picture him he has my mother’s face.  Very strange indeed.  I finished reading everything she has to say about morning pages.  I’m not thrilled.  I’m just not a morning person.  If she had called them night pages I probably would’ve liked the idea better.  I’m one of the grumpy people she describes.  I don’t like this idea at all, but I since I’ve put my feet down on this path, I will walk it. 

The other basic tool is the Artist’s Date, a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your inner artist… an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interloopers….  You do not take anyone but you and your creative child.  No taggers-on of any stripe.  Of course I have immediate resistance to two hours a week; especially if I can’t even take the dog!  She is right that I find this remarkably threatening!  I can already hear my killjoy side trying to wriggle out of it and I haven’t even started to plan it yet!  Learning to listen to what my artist child has to say about these joint expeditions may be challenging and I can easily see myself avoiding my artist dates.  She says recognize this as a fear of intimacy- self-intimacy.  Well, yeah, I have intimacy issues. I can admit that up front. 

Julia says “in filling the well, think magic.  Think delight.  Think fun.  Do not think duty.  Do not do what you should do.  Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.”  Scent can have powerful associations and heal…  Sounds can lull or stimulate…  Cooking can fill the well…  The artist-brain is reached through rhythm – through rhyme, not reason.  Any regular, repetitive action primes the well… Needlework, by definition regular and repetitive, both soothes and stimulates the artist within… Showering, swimming, scrubbing, shaving, steering the car – all regular, repetitive activities may tip us over from our logic brain into our more creative artisit brain…. Learn which of these works best for you and use it.  Our focused attention is critical to filling the well.  We need to encounter life experiences, not ignore them.  Artist’s block is a very literal expression.  Blocks must be acknowledge and dislodged.  Filling the well is the surest way to do this.  Art is the imagination at play in the field of time.  Let yourself play.

All this sounds well and good; but it scares the hell out of me!!!  What have I committed myself to?  I know I need to do this.  I know I will be a better and happier person once I come out the other side of this experience.  So why do I feel like I’m going in kicking and screaming when no one at all is making me do this?  This is a volunatary act and yet I dread what is coming next.  And I am excited at the same time.  What an oxymoron!


  1. What a great way to document your journey. The format makes for an easy read and a good read.

    Do you remember me posting this earlier?

    “There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
    Anais Nin

    • I had forgotten you posting that but it fits very well now doesn’t it?

  2. This is a great bit of literature regarding your own journey. Thank you

  3. […] chapter, you might be interested in the blog entry I made last year regarding this chapter.   (  My feelings haven’t changed much!  It’s still scary to […]

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