Not that I was unhappy – I wasn’t. In fact, I had a lot to be happy about, like the birth of my second daughter and a career path that was on track, on target and full of potential.
Something was missing. I had an itch that wasn’t being scratched and I needed a solution. So I decided to make a change.
Two changes, actually, the first one enabling the second. First, I took time out from a busy career by going on parental leave. Second, I decided to write.
My initial problem was overcoming inertia. Although I’d written creative fiction in high school and been an avid reader until I joined the military, I’d long since given up writing or reading anything not career related. To get started, I turned to Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.
Up front, The Artist’s Way isn’t for everyone. It’s infused with enough spiritual language to enrage those who’ve had enough of New Age fads and pseudo-psychological babble (Check out Goodreads for some polarized reviews https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/615570.The_Artist_s_Way). Cameron even acknowledges this by stating that it doesn’t matter if you believe the foundation of her program, it’s what you do that matters. I took her at her word and found two things that helped.
The first tool was morning pages, basically three pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand writing done first thing in the morning. Doesn’t matter what you write, it doesn’t even need to make sense; the purpose here is to get the juices flowing and act as a quasi-brain dump. Morning pages could be analogous to a daily stretch – if you don’t do them it won’t stop you from getting your workout in, but you’ll be that much better off by incorporating them into your routine, especially if you don’t work out every day.
The second tool is something Cameron calls the Artist Date, or a weekly block of time for yourself to spend time with…yourself. Well, technically, Cameron’s proposal is to spend time with your inner artist, but I digress (although my wife was a bit skeptical when I said I needed to take myself out on a date – no idea why).