As part of "The Artist's Way," Julia Cameron suggests writing three pages a day- EVERY DAY- to get oneself "unblocked."
This is a dual-edged sword of the most excellent advice I have ever received and the worst.
Excellent because, she's right- you can't show up at a page every single day and write consistently and not start to feel things pouring out of you. Things you didn't know you felt, things you weren't aware existed in your psyche, old problems or funny stories or general bits of flotsam and jetsam floating around in your soul that would never otherwise see the light of day. It's kind of like this blog: some days, I show up here with absolutely no idea of what I'm going to write about. But the cursor is blinking, and there is some connection between some hidden corner of my brain and my fingers on the keys and things just come out. It is truly magic in a way only doing something you love to do can be magic. The creativity exists in you all of the time, as Cameron suggests. Sometimes it's just difficult to access it and learning to do this as a discipline takes finesse and dedication and a deep respect for otherwordly aspects that control your universe without you ever even knowing it. It's frightening, sometimes, what winds up surfacing. Frightening and freeing and ultimately gratifying.
This is the light, beautiful part of it.
Then there's the ugly side.
I AM SITTING DOWN TO WRITE MY THREE PAGES. I'M TIRED. I DON'T WANT TO WRITE. I HATE WRITING. WRITING IS STUPID. I HATE THIS PEN. I ALSO HATE THIS PAPER. I'M COLD. WRITING SUCKS. WRITING IS AWFUL. WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT (write?) MIND EVER WANT TO BE A WRITER? THIS IS STUPID. I'M BORED. I WANT TO GO WATCH DVR EPISODES OF 'HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.' I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE. I'VE ONLY FILLED UP A QUARTER OF A PAGE. I HATE THIS. JULIA CAMERON CAN SHOVE THREE PAGES UP HER ASS. I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE WRITING. IF I ADD MORE VOWELS IT TAKES UP MORE SPAAAAAAAAAACE AND THEN I DON'T HAVE TO WRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITE AS MUCH. THIS IS AWFUL. I WILL NEVER BE A GOOD WRITER IF I KEEP WRITING ABOUT HOW MUCH I HATE WRITING. I AM A TOTAL FAILURE. I'LL HAVE TO JUST GIVE UP WRITING AND NEVER WRITE ANYTHING AGAIN AND THEN I'LL BE MISERABLE AND ALONE AND HATE EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING BECAUSE I WILL HAVE NO CREATIVE OUTLET. I'LL BE ALONE WITH MY CATS AND MY NON-WRITING AND EVERYONE WILL HATE ME AND THE WHOLE WORLD WILL FALL APART ALL BECAUSE I HATE WRITING AND I SUCK AT IT. THIS IS NOT HELPING! THIS EXERCISE IS RENDERING ME HIGHLY DEPRESSED! I AM NOW AN ALONE FAILURE WHO CAN'T WRITE AND ALL I WAS AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS EXERCISE WAS COLD AND TIRED! THIS IS AWFUL! I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE! OH MY GOD I'VE ONLY FILLED A PAGE???????????????? MAYBE IF I WRITE BIGGER. I COULD WRITE A WHOLE BOOK IN 200 WORDS IF THE PRINT IS REALLY BIG. IT'LL BE GENIUS. THEY'LL CALL ME THE WUNDERKIND OF THE POST-MODERN LITERARY WORLD. THEY WILL REFER TO ME AS A 'BRIGHT YOUNG THING.' MY BOOK RELEASE PARTY IS GONG TO BE SWEET. I'LL DEFINITELY INVITE DAVID SEDARIS AND LAURIE NOTARO. STEPHEN KING WILL BEG FOR AN INVITE BUT I'LL TELL HIM ONLY IF THERE'S A LAST-MINUTE VACANCY AND ONLY IF HE REDACTS HALF OF HIS BOOK 'ON WRITING.' CHELSEA HANDLER WILL SHOW UP WITH KANYE WEST AND FLASH EVERYONE. IT WILL BE THE PARTY OF THE CENTURY. I WONDER IF I CAN GET SAMANTHA RONSON TO DJ. I HOPE THAT MEANS LINDSAY LOHAN WILL SHOW UP LOOKING LIKE A TRAIN WRECK. MY SECOND BOOK WILL BE ONE WORD PER PAGE AND I WILL WIN THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE FOR MY CHALLENGING OF STRUCTURE AND STYLE AND UPHOLDING OF CREATIVITY AND OWNERSHIP OF ONE'S ART. JONATHAN FRANZEN WILL WRING HIS HANDS WONDERING WHY HE WASTED SO MANY THOUSANDS OF WORDS AND PAGES WHEN HE COULD HAVE WRITTEN A 200-WORD BOOK AND SPENT THE REST OF THE YEAR ON VACATION. THE NEW YORK TIMES WILL FIRST HATE IT THEN ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. THE HUFFINGTON POST WILL ASK ME TO WRITE 20-WORD COLUMNS EVERY WEEK ON THE TOPIC OF MY CHOICE. I'LL HAVE AN APARTMENT IN THE VILLAGE, A BEACH HOUSE IN THE HAMPDENS, A STUDIO IN BALTIMORE, AND A SMALL FLAT IN LONDON. THE CATS WILL TRAVEL WITH ME AT ALL TIMES. THE WEEPIES WILL WRITE A SONG ABOUT ME. ME AND MY 200-WORD NOVEL. AMAZING. WOW- THE CREATIVE PROCESS REALLY WORKS! THIS IS ALMOST AS GOOD AS AN OUTLINE!