Artist's Way,  MidLife

The Artist’s Way for Midlife – Intro

I have been a fan of Morning Pages, made popular by Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, since 2010. In fact, writing 750 words each morning is now a part of my subconscious routine, along with my morning cup of coffee and checking email.

In 2016, when I learned she wrote a book specifically geared toward recent retirees – It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again – I knew this was a must-read for me. Since that time, I have read the book twice. But simply reading the book is not enough. Taking the time to complete the exercises is necessary to discover creativity and meaning at midlife and beyond.

As in The Artist’s Way, the book is divided into twelve chapters, each focusing on a different principle of the creative life. Ideally, the exercises outlined in each chapter should be completed in a week’s time, therefore completing the creativity course in three months. For those who desire a less frenetic pace, a chapter-a-month is an option.

Since I am a part-time teacher and summer is my free time… I plan to complete one chapter a week and share my journey in this space.

Today’s post will focus on the introduction to the book.

For those familiar with The Artist’s Way, you know the cornerstones of Julia Cameron’s program consists of daily Morning Pages (three hand-written pages completed first thing in the morning in order to clear the mind and make room for creative thought) and weekly Artist Dates (a solo date of at least an hour to do something fun and frivolous that replenishes the creative well).

As the author noted in the introduction, Morning Pages are a bit easier to accomplish because they resemble “work” and we feel productive once we finish. Artist Dates are more difficult because they are, in essence, scheduled play. We feel indulgent and selfish. I am determined, however, to take one Artist Date a week and, to help keep me accountable. I will post photos of my adventures here.

In addition to these two non-negotiable items, Ms. Cameron also advocates taking two-twenty minute walks per week. She further advises we take these walks solo – no spouse or dogs allowed – and without headphones. Instead, we are to walk alone in our thoughts and observe the world around us. According to the author (and based on my personal experience), walking quells anxiety and allows creativity to bubble to the surface. Very often I return from a walk with some little nugget or insight – and I will gladly share those as the weeks progress.

What truly sets this book apart from her other creativity programs, however, is the inclusion of weekly Memoir prompts. She asks the reader to divide his/her life into twelve equal segments (for me, that is about five years each week) and answer specific questions that help us reconnect with our authentic selves. As the author so eloquently states, by honoring the life we have led, we inevitably bring ourselves to a place of both power and self-appreciation. I will post a few of each week’s questions, in case you would like to take part.

I think perhaps one of the primary reasons I love this book is because I immediately connected with the first page of the introduction:

You will be surprised and delighted by the well of colorful inspiration that lies within you — a well that you alone can tap. You will discover that you are not alone in your desires, and that there are creativity tools that can help you navigate the specific issues of retirement.

I am excited to delve into this study, and I thought sharing with you would be a good way to connect with the MidLife (#MLSTL) community. I am not alone – and it is never too late to start something new.

 

23 Comments

  • Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    Hello Molly and great to have you join us at Midlife Share the Love Party. I totally agree with the title of the book ‘It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again’. In fact, I spoke about this in a speech recently when I spoke about having an Ageless Attitude. I am definitely going to get copies of these two books so thanks for introducing them to me. My only problem is that over the years I’ve been using the keyboard so much my hand writing has really deteriorated. Have a great week and thanks for the reviews. #MLSTL

    • Molly Totoro

      Hi Sue … I absolutely adore being a part of this online community!

      I hope you enjoy the books. I am curious about this topic, Ageless Attitude, and will definitely investigate this week. I listened to a podcast yesterday which interviewed a 73-year-old woman who started writing novels only three ago. She inspired me!

      As I replied to Denyse… while the benefits of handwriting Morning Pages cannot be disputed, I think the real value is in writing down those discursive thoughts to clear the mind. If handwriting will deter you from doing that, then, by all means, use the computer 🙂 I used the website 750words.com for years and highly recommend it for a safe, secure place to write.

  • Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au

    I like the idea of the solo walks Molly – I walk alone five times a week and don’t take my phone or any distractions. It’s a time to think and pray and ponder. Other times I walk with my husband and that’s a time to connect, but the times alone are when I slow down and think about how blessed I am to live my life the way I do.

    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I’ve shared this on my SM xx
    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au

    • Molly Totoro

      Truth be told Leanne… I take these walks (daily) with my dog. Feeny is a basset – so our walks are slow and meandering (most definitely NOT a cardio workout). He sniffs every rock, tree, and blade of grass, which gives me plenty of time to ponder and pray. I am always amazed how often I leave home puzzled about a certain problem and return from the walk with clarity.

      • Jean

        Molly, a friend had a basset years ago and I happened to drive by when he was walking the dog. I remember thinking it looked like a man with a vacuum cleaner that had a mind of its own! After that I called the dog Hoover.

        • Molly Totoro

          Oh my word, Jean… I LOVE this story!! Hoover is a great name for a Bassett (and quite descriptive of their constant sniffing behavior).
          Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this terrific tale with me 🙂

  • Denyse Whelan

    Hi Molly, I gave Julia’s work a whirl a while ago and I think I just didn’t connect as I was writing so much on-line and blogging daily too.

    However, I certainly enjoyed her ideas and the second book about the midlife did have some ideas that I took on board. She is a talented lady and I can see where the appeal is in following her practice.

    On a very practical note, I also could not continue to actual handwriting because of arthritic issues but I did give it a go.

    I am really pleased you are getting so much from it.

    Denyse x from #MLSTL

    • Molly Totoro

      Hi Denyse!
      I can understand that these exercises are not for everyone, and quite honestly, I’m sure I will pick-and-choose as I go 🙂 But I do like the idea of combining the four cornerstones (including memoir – something I’ve wanted to do for several years now) to help find direction for this new phase of life.

      I will also say… while I understand the mandate to write Morning Pages by hand, I used the keyboard for years. I think the true benefit is to give discursive thought a place to fall that is outside our heads. Let me know if you give it go.

  • Mary Lou

    Molly, your post caught my eye right away because that’s been my motto for the last four years. It’s never too late to begin again and I’ve been enjoying watercolor sketching and writing (blogging). I remember her first book and love the idea of the 20 minute walks and the memoir exercises. Glad to be connected through #MLSTL! 🙂 Sharing on social media!
    http://www.meinthemiddlewrites.com

    • Molly Totoro

      It is a fabulous life motto, Mary Lou 🙂

      I am thrilled to find this #MLSTL community and I look forward to engaging conversations with like-minded people.

  • Victoria

    I agree it is never too late to begin again. I am not sure I would have that many words to write down first thing in the morning. I will check this book out though. Thank you for a thought-provoking post.

    • Molly Totoro

      Hi Victoria – thank you for stopping by!

      While I am a bonafide rule follower, I am learning to follow the spirit of the rule rather than the strict wording 🙂
      750 words is a good goal because it forces you to think beyond the surface stuff and dig deeper into mindful issues. However… getting rid of the surface stuff is a GREAT start – whether it is 50 or 750 words. I do hope you give it a try – then let me know how it goes!

  • Pradeep

    Indeed, it is never too late to begin again. As we get into mid-life and old age, it’s important that we find time to indulge in creative activities. It could be as simple as rearraging your wardrobe or the drawing room! Basically, the point is that we must do some activity that gives an expression to our creative ideas.
    I love walking; and you are right, it is a time when we can be in conversation with ourselves.
    Thanks for introducing me to the book. Shall look for it, and read it.
    – Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.com
    (Came to this post via the #MLSTL. I have shared this post on my social media.)

    • Molly Totoro

      I hope you enjoy the book, Pradeep! And I love your outlook on retirement. I never thought of rearranging my wardrobe as a creative act, but you are absolutely right. It is the baby steps that help us make progress, don’t you think?

  • Jennifer

    I love the Artist’ Way and recently returned to writing Morning Pages after a long break. They really go far in helping to center me each morning. The clutter gets cleared and I can focus on what needs to be done or even what needs to be enjoyed. I recently bought It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again as it reflects the theme of my own blog Unfold And Begin. I haven’t started reading it yet, but your intro is inspiring me to take it out.

    • Molly Totoro

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Jennifer! I look forward to getting to know you better. I love the title of your blog and plan to visit immediately 🙂
      I’d love to hear how you enjoy this book, once you’ve had a chance to read through and try a few of the exercises.

  • Leslie Clingan

    First of all, thank you for somehow finding me and my little blog and leaving a comment so that I could meet you! And then find your blog and read about this book and know that I absolutely need this right now in my life. Pinning this article, running to Amazon to download this book, and looking forward to moving forward beside you through It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again. Thank you!!!

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