The Artist's Way

Matt Kollock The Artist's WayMy hand hurts. My right hand. The one I use to pick and strum and stuff like that. It hurts because I've been doing my "Morning Pages" every day since 2023 began.


Happy New Year, by the way! How have you been? Did you enjoy the holiday season? Stressful? Relaxing? Did you go anywhere?

Annie and I hosted family Christmas this year at our house here in Albuquerque. I'm so glad to have taken on that role. We are the ones to do it. It just feels natural. It was nice! I made meatballs. Annie made posole. Uncle Johnny brought enchiladas. Ron brought his world-famous calabacitas. There were cookies and brownies and cheeses and chips and dips. We made an excellent playlist.

Gifts were exchanged. Drinks were drunk. I think everyone had a pretty good time, after which they arrived back at their respective homes safely. That was Christmas Eve.

On Christmas morning, Annie and I exchanged and opened gifts. Santa gave us a few nice things, too. Some lotto tickets (I think we won, like, three dollars). Some candles. Odds and ends. And a book: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.


The full title is actually The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. So yeah. It's one of those books. Not for everyone. The spiritual component probably scares quite a few people away, even if the ideas and concepts presented in the book might resonate. For me, it's a good thing. A feature, not a bug.

Anyway, the book is a guide to recovering and uncovering creativity. Part of the premise is that as humans, we are meant to create. It is our primary purpose, in fact. To be a creator, to be an artist, should be the fundamental goal of any individual. And creativity is the reason we are here. This is all shit that I believe and have believed for a long time. First, on an intuitive level. Later on a psychedelic and spiritual level. So this shit is way the fuck up my alley.

Not that I feel stuck, creatively. I'm doing quite well, in fact. Writing and recording songs. Performing them. Constantly and continuously coming up with new creations. But there's another level to reach. The level where I connect more closely with others. I get the sense there's an artistry, for me, that's bigger than the music. What is it? I have no idea. Just a feeling. And I think participating in The Artist's Way is going to help me figure it out.

Have you heard of the book? It's been around a while. Ours is the 30th Anniversary edition, released just last year. The original edition was published back in 1992. It has a reputation. People swear by it. It introduced the concept of the aforementioned "Morning Pages" into the public consciousness. The "Artist Date," too. To be honest, I had been aware of this book, aware of the idea of "Morning Pages" and aware of the concept of the Artist Date, but had no idea they were all connected. All part of the same program. So I wonder if maybe you're familiar with these things, even if you haven't picked up the actual book.


So yeah, "Morning Pages" are three pages of handwritten observations, thoughts, reflections, judgments or whatever comes to mind. It's not about the content or its quality. It's only about putting pen to paper and writing whatever comes to mind. So it's kind of like journaling. A brain dump. Meant to be done as the very first thing every day. In the morning. Thus why they are called "Morning Pages." Gonna stop putting them in quotes now. You know. You're on the inside now.

I hate writing longhand, though, is the thing. I've long been a proponent eliminating any kind of "longhand" writing. Fuck, even shorthand writing. It's useless! We have typing now! And it's not like writing with a pen/pencil in hand is inherently more natural or human. It's all technology! I have kind of strong opinions on this. Nevertheless, I have put my convictions aside for this endeavor.

And you know what? I kind of get it now. The point is not to be able to match the speed of my mind with my journaling, which is my normal mode. The idea is not to get every single thing out on the page perfectly. There is no backspacing or correcting (auto or otherwise) in Morning Pages. A certain kind of in-the-moment editing has to be done. It is simply not possible to write every single word that crosses my mindscape. So it ends up turning out differently than the kind of writing I would do typing characters on a computer screen.

It really feels like evacuating mental waste. It has the effect of helping me start the day a little fresher with a little less gunk in the pipes. Interesting. If nothing else, it has prevented me from looking at my phone and doomscrolling first thing every morning.


So that's why my hand hurts. Because of that book. Because of the Morning Pages. But I think it's getting better. I'm not holding the pen with such a tight grip. I'm not feeling the need to press down quite as hard. I'm learning how to use my whole body to write. Make it faster and easier. And I'm learning to not be as judgmental of my sloppy handwriting. It's okay. It's not for anyone else but me.

That's another thing with the Morning Pages; they are not meant to be shared with anyone else. At this stage in our Artist's Way progress, we aren't even supposed to read them back to ourselves. Just fucking write and forget. Get it out and be done with it. People swear by this process. They say it's completely transformative. Life changing. Maybe it's just a placebo effect. But who cares??? I'm open. I'm going to keep doing the thing. Even though my hand really, really hurts.

We are on week two of the twelve-week program. So it's all very new. I'm sure I'll keep you up to date on all the things.


One thing I need to figure out is what to do on my Artist Date each week. For week one, I went to the record store. Flipped through all the vinyl and found four LPs to bring home. It was nice. But it also just kind of felt like shopping. I think the idea is to treat one's inner child (the true artist within) to an inspiring and fun experience. It is meant to be deliberate, serious frivolity. So I'll figure something out. Get into the groove.

The natural thing for me to do is attend live music performances. Unfortunately, there's not a lot going on these days here in the 505, with regard to live music. I'm also, admittedly, out of the loop.

It's hard to give oneself permission to just have fun, isn't it? Why is fun so fucking demonized? It's so essential. But we become so afraid of not being taken seriously or whatever. Who gives a shit??? If we're not here to have fun, what's the point?

So I'm going to get into some of the week-two exercises today. One of which is to list about twenty things that I find fun. Have I been avoiding those things? How can I reintroduce some of those things back into my life as a responsible adult?

I'll let you know how it goes.


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