Numerous books and tapes suggest starting a journal. There are workshops offered and methods outlined for journaling. Realizing the power of keeping a journal, I started many. But, even though I believed in the power of journaling just like students and other speakers I have talked with about journals I would write in my journal regularly for several weeks, then once or twice a week, then once a month, until I put it aside for several years.
That was until I discovered the program that changed my life. This twelve week program in contained in the book, The Artist's Way : A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan. I have recommended it to everyone I know, and those who have followed it, feel the same way I do. Let me tell you about it.Besides purchasing the book, get the hardcover The Artists Way Morning Pages Journal. There are two tasks to perform throughout the program, and I call them tasks because in the beginning, they are not easy. The first is to fill three pages, longhand, in your journal every morning. Not being a morning person, I found this to be a stretch in the beginning. There is a reason, however, for doing this in the a.m. It sets the whole tone for the day. And, once you have the habit, you will look forward to the writing and will fill your first journal before you know it.
What should I write about and how does this writing set the tone for the day? First of all, this is different from journaling. You are not to worry about good or creative writing. Just write whatever comes to mind things you feel good about, what you are planning to do, gripes and whining, worries, joys, accomplishments. As Julia says, writing the first page and a half is easy, writing the second page and a half get down to the truth. By writing what you want to brag about, complain about, what you do and dont like, you clear your mind and attitude for the rest of the day, so that there is room for the creative ideas that we all have. You will be amazed by the difference you will feel in your life and the effect this will have on your presentations.
All right, then, what is the second task? Surprisingly, I found this to be more difficult to keep up with. Julia suggests keeping an artists date with oneself every week. This is to be a one to two hour excursion that you take alone to experience a place, an event, or something special that you dont usually do. For example, visit a museum or a button store, go to a movie alone, take a walk in the woods, on the beach or in the city, visit an area you have never visited. This is a time to be by yourself so that you can creatively tune into you and your surroundings.
Along with these two tasks, there are weekly assignments. Follow them. Each week, you will have an assignment some easy, some difficult, some that make sense, and some that dont. As I continued on through the book, tackling each new weekly assignment (and remember, completing the morning pages daily and keeping an artists date weekly), I felt my whole being taking on a new attitude and new approach to every facet of my life. The hardest week I experienced was the one where we werent to have any contact with external media no movies, TV, radio, audio tapes, newspapers, books and/or other reading material. I didnt miss the movies, TV or newspapers, but I could barely make it through the day without listening to tapes and the radio, or reading. The reasoning behind what seemed like torture is that without the extraneous distractions, we are forced to get in touch with our inner selves and our own creativity. We often use these distractions as crutches to avoid quiet time. I know that I wrote more that week than I have ever written before or since. Other weeks were fun but always challenging.
Participants in this program react differently, but everyone I know who has completed the twelve weeks has experienced un-measurable growth and beneficial changes in their lives. I actually went through the program twice, and, to this day, write my morning pages. So, why dont you do yourself, your presentations and your audiences a favor and try it.
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