A few years ago I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which was considered the benchmark for understanding and releasing your creativity. It’s a brilliant book with an abundance of suggestions and inspiration for uncovering and channelling your creative energy. Cameron encourages us to spend a few minutes each day hand-writing in a notebook our “Morning Pages”—daily thoughts and random mental meanderings designed to help us focus and create.
I tried it. I went to the bookstore and bought a lovely hard-covered notebook and for three entire days, I recorded my daily musings. Mes moindres pensées. Then, I got bored and quit. One of my girlfriends did it for an entire year, then panicked at the thought of someone else reading her innermost thoughts. So, she too quit. No one can dispute the value of journaling. It can help us through difficulties, stimulate our imaginations, assimilate our thoughts, and record for posterity our personal snapshots of times and places. But, it’s not for everyone.
So often when we read a self-help book, it reveals what we already know. It just took someone else to repackage the information, put it in a book and make money selling it as something “new and revealing”. Julia Cameron’s book was wonderful and I highly recommend it, but being the lazy ol’ gal that I am, I found a quicker, more self-affirming way to accomplish the same thing.
John Cleese of Monty Python and A Fish Named Wanda fame has written a teeny little tome called creativity which sums up the same message (expanding your creativity) in less than one hundred pages. That’s more my speed. It takes about an hour to read and affirms something I have written about several times previously in BoomerBroadcast. Cleese’s message is basically simple. Creativity comes from our subconscious. We have to create the right conditions to let it run free and those conditions involve sleeping and doing nothing—both activities (or lack of) at which I excel.
Naturally, Cleese’s book creativity was recommended to me by the same friend who abandoned her “Morning Pages” after a year. We’re on the same page. We’re both creative types; she’s an artist; I like to write. I’ll never be a threat to Margaret Atwood but I love doing it. My friend and I both love spending our time on our respective creations and look forward to digging in each morning. Motivation is not a problem.
So, if you’re ever on the receiving end of a critical side-eye or shamed for napping, daydreaming or otherwise idling, tell your critics to piss off. It’s an important, even necessary part of the creative process. You’re doing good work and the results will not only be amazing, but they will also make you happy. And, that’s what makes life entirely worthwhile. John Cleese says so and my friend and I agree.
Here are links to earlier postings in BoomerBroadcast about the value of idleness:
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