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.