Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drop It Like A Boss

There are three things I want to tell you guys today:

1)Every day for the past few weeks I've been looking forward to waking and doing my Morning Pages from Julia Cameron's My Artist's Way toolkit. Here's something you might not know about me: I'm addicted to self-help books. When I read a good one, I become absolutely unbearable because I want to preach it to everyone the way some people preach religion. It was due to my habit that I first came across Julia Cameron a few years back. She offers techniques for stirring creativity and letting yourself go loose in your writing practice. The thing is, she wants you to wake up every morning and write three pages longhand of stream-of-consciousness, whatever comes into your head, brain drain. No "real writing" she says, just keep the pen moving. I tried this a few times, but it never really stuck. Something about longhand in the morning just didn't work for me. (I've been telling people that mothers shouldn't bother with the "write every day" rule so often lately, I think it's become my anthem).

Now Julia has taken the concepts of her book and put them into an online toolkit. Let me just tell you: I adore it. I can now type my morning pages. I should be clear and say that Julia doesn't advocate this. She still wants me to do it longhand. But I believe in taking what works for you and leaving what doesn't. Every morning I wake, turn on my computer and start typing, and it feels great. Getting all that noise drained out of my head really does help me focus on my work and stop stray bits from interfering when I don't want them to. I've been able to sit down and really play with words and stories afterwards. It feels great.

I read from some other users that the pledge Cameron asks you to sign when you get started freaked them out--well, I just plain didn't sign it. I don't do resolutions, I don't do pledges. There is so much else I love about the toolkit. You can upload pictures and pin them in your journal, making an online version of that artistic, doodled, Polaroid-loaded leather-bound journal all the really creative kids have in the movies. There's a section that allows you to pin post-it notes to a page, so you can collect and pin down all those fleeting thoughts and bits of story that show up unbidden in your brain. There's also a weekly artist's date. I admit I haven't done any of them, but some other uses have said the prompts--visit a thrift store, go out and buy some of your favorite childhood candies--have been their favorite part and triggered some great writing sessions. Like I said, I believe in taking tools and making them work for you. I take the same buffet approach to religions, but don't tell my mom. If you want more info, there's an on-going discussion over at Blogher about the Artist's Way Toolkit, which I honestly am addicted to and don't plan to live without.

2)I did yoga like such a boss today, it's not even funny. Don't laugh. That's how funny it's not. File this under more things I shouldn't be admitting to on my blog: I have this female character that I write into the show Supernatural while I'm watching it. It just suffers such a terrible dearth of female characters (Sam counts for some feminine energy, but just barely). I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong--the female character is not a stand in for me. (Otherwise she'd be doing a lot more kissing of Jensen Ackles. So far, she's done none.) So today, when yoga got really challenging and I wanted to drop out of all my poses and mewl on the floor, you know what I did? I became this bad-ass female character in my head. Actually I became the actress who plays her, look, my inner life is complicated. The actress plays an action heroine so she needs to be toned and strong and do round kicks with her hair down. I pretended I was her and I stayed in all those poses much longer than I knew I could. I'm still trembling right now as I type this. The result of challenging my body so intensely was the post-yoga flush. You know it from such things as sex and red wine, only it comes without the boozy haze of the latter. What should happen next but I walk into Starbucks and see a young woman who looks exactly like Jensen Ackles' real wife, Danneel Harris. It's dangerous when my mood is bouncy like this because my deepest urge was to smile giddy at her and say "You're soooo pretty." I restrained myself only because I know from previous incidents, things go swimmingly for about two seconds and then plumment downward irrevocably and someone ends up ON THE STREETS in the movie preview sense. I especially can't pull this kind of stunt on people I know, because the next time they see me and my bouncy mood has left, they feel all hurt and betrayed. "Hi Brittany!" They chirp, bright-eyed like stupid forest animals. "Do you like my blouse today?" Then they die inside when I mumble "Huh? Oh. . . yeah," distracted and reserved, and brush past them. It's just bad news for all parties involved.

3) That's all, you guys. This has to stop.


*I have been compensated for reviewing Julia Cameron's My Artist's Way Toolkit but all opinions are my own. You guys, I wouldn't like to you about a thing like this. 


  1. Oh, Lord. I did that three pages of longhand nearly twenty years ago when I lived in a godforsaken house in Croton on the Hudson. I wrote a lot about snow and deer and wild turkeys, ice in the bathtub and oreo crust coffee ice cream cakes. I really did.

    That last paragraph was a feat of genius. In fact, I'm going out on a limb to say that your financial anxiety might be much alleviated if you were to propose a "The Vesuvius Way: The Way of the Volcano" or something to that effect.

  2. Oh Elizabeth. You are just the best thing ever.

    When I make millions off "Your Artist Vs The Volcano", you get a cut.

  3. Oh my stars, as they say, that was fun to read while drinking a huge mug of coffee. I groove creativity events and just may have to explore that one. I adore yoga, thanks to Margi, but have only *barely* tasted that flush afterwards, am now inspired to reach for it. Your complicated interior life sounds like a trip worth taking, wow! LOL Love it. And as always, your phrasing is pure magic. Happy weekend to you birthday girl! xo

  4. I wrote in my travel journal (aka $1 spiral notebook from Tar-jay -because I'm apparently a smug hipster bastard) longhand and swear my hand cramped in 3 lines every time I tried to write in it. The longer I go without writing that way, the more serial-killer my handwriting gets. (10 points if you know the movie reference there)

    I need me some yoga like a boss. And some inspiration. And more time. And maybe fewer episodes of Glee. Never mind on that last one.


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