The sound of paper

Best known as the coauthor of The Artist’s Way, creativity guru Cameron now offers a series of personal essays and exercises about working through creative droughts. She emphasizes the importance of acknowledging artist’s blocks as a part of the creative process, but also “soldiering through” by continuing to show up “at the typewriter or the easel.” In each essay, she invokes her own struggles to make time for creative work and avoid the traps set by the “inner censor.” In “Getting at It,” she writes that “[w]aiting for art to be easy, we make it hard. We take our emotional temperature and find ourselves below normal, lacking in resolve… The truth is that getting at it makes it easier. Every day we write creates a habit of writing in us.” In the exercise that follows, Cameron suggests that readers list five ways in which they have inched forward in a given day. Some pieces of advice are likely to resonate more with readers than others-and the author’s straightforward message can seem one-note at times. But for novice artists looking for encouragement in an uninspired period, this volume could do the trick.

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The small book you hold in your hands was begun in a green eastern spring and written throughout a long, parched summer in New Mexico. It is intended as a creative companion. Its essays are modest and gentle. Each is accompanied by a matching task, also modest and gentle. It is my belief that we make great strides in our creativity by taking little steps. Think of this book as a summer’s hike through the New Mexico wilderness. You will gradually build stamina and savvy. One essay at a time, one task at a time, you will become more and more familiar with your own creative strengths.

There are three creative tools that should be undertaken and continued throughout your work with this book – and, I

hope, far beyond.

Morning pages: Morning Pages are the pivotal tool of a successful creative life. They are three pages of longhand, morning writing, about anything and everything. You may complain, whine, grumble, grieve. You may hope, celebrate, plan, plot. Nothing is too small or too large to be included. Everything is grist for the creative mill. Why should we do Morning Pages? Morning Pages prioritize our day. They render us present to the moment. They introduce us to an unsuspected inner strength and agility. They draw to our attention those areas of our life that need our focus. Both our weaknesses and our strengths will be gently revealed. Problems will be exposed, and solutions suggested.

Morning Pages are a potent form of meditation for hyperactive Westerners. They amplify what spiritual seekers call “the still small voice.” Work with the Morning Pages awakens our intuition. Synchronicity becomes a daily fact. We are more and more often in the right place at the right time. We know how to handle situations that once baffled us. In a very real sense, we become our own friend and witness. Morning Pages are the gateway to the inner and higher self. They bring us guidance and resilience. They make us farseeing. I have been doing Morning Pages for two decades now. Many of my students have used them a decade or longer. They are a portable, reliable, and friendly tool. Do Morning Pages daily.

Artist dates: The Artist Date is the companion tool to Morning Pages. It is a once-a-week, festive outing undertaken and executed solo. As the name suggests, the tool involves self-romancing.

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The sound of paper