This is my sixth blog about The Artist’s Way course. The first five are Everything Is Connected, Fasten Your Seat Belts, Reading Deprivation, Do Fury Honor, and Becalmed.
Week 12 is the final week of the course. Not that the course is ever supposed to be “over.” The two key actions—morning pages and a weekly artist date—are meant to continue forever.
For twelve weeks, seven days a week, I have been writing three pages in longhand before I start the work of the day. By “writing” I do not mean WRITING. I mean putting down whatever comes to mind. Sometimes these pages are meditative. Sometimes they are really boring. When I re-read them after nine weeks, I was surprised at the insight and clarity that bloomed amidst the boring parts.
To do morning pages, you need to make up your mind to do them. That’s the main thing. Then you need a cheap notebook—Walgreens has them, and you could beat their price at Walmart. You should use a pen that feels good to the hand, because you are going to be holding that pen a lot. I like Papermate Ink Joy.
The morning pages are therapy. As therapy goes, they are an astonishing bargain. Your cost is about a half hour a day and the price of the pens and notebooks.
As I write these pages, I often think of the movie Annie Hall. Alvy and Annie spent a lot of time in their respective therapists’ offices, thinking out loud about their lives. With the morning pages, you write out loud about your life. “If I do X, then Y will happen. But if I don’t do X . . . .”
(Come to think of it, Annie was not on a couch. Her therapist had her sitting up in a chair.)
Here’s the thing: morning pages work the way that talk therapy does. You remember the same dreams, you work out the same issues, you return again and again to the same meaningful themes.
I didn’t know that to do talk therapy, you don’t actually have to pay anyone to listen. Writing gets it done.
I’ve spent the last month or so decluttering the place. I’ve donated things, made trips to Goodwill, and done all the throwing out, rearranging, and repurposing that came when I paid attention to things I had stopped looking at. I repotted the two permanent indoor plants and very happy they were that I finally noticed how cramped and suffering they were in old pots that they had long since outgrown.
At last! Things that should be put away are put away. Things I don’t like are gone. I know what I own. I found not only what I wanted to get rid of but also good stuff I had forgotten I had.
There is space now. I can’t call it new because it has been there all the time.
Physical clutter and mental clutter have things in common.
Everyone instinctively knows what mental clutter is. It is the stuff that stands in your way, yammering about the past. It is old habits that no longer serve a purpose, or never did. It is fears based not on reality but on self-talk. Such clutter does not go away easily. But it does, like spring coming. Which spring is actually doing right now, peeking up through the snow and cold.