I am not sure about the experiences that lead Julia Cameron to write, but I have a hunch that she has attended meetings at the same program as I have (hint hint). She speaks the language of recovery. My hunch is that King has some recovery under his belt too.
I am new to writing. I mean for the purpose of publication. I have been doing morning pages (We are asked by Cameron to write three full pages about the junk that floats around in our consciousness. This clears our mind of all that stinking thinking that rattles around in there, restricting us from being able to access our creatively), off and on for quite some time now. I am learning that consistency is key. And I have failed in that department. I have never made my writing a priority. This is what Cameron had to stay about keeping all of that crap in our heads:
"Perhaps the greatest barrier for any of us as we look for an expanded life is our own deeply held skepticism. This might be called the secret doubt. It does not seem to matter whether we are officially believers or agnostics. We have our doubts about all of this creator/creativity stuff, and those doubts are very powerful. Unless we air them, they can sabotage us. Many times, in trying to be a good sports we stuff our feelings of doubt. We need to stop doing that and air them instead."
Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way Every Day
King says, that if we want to write, we need to have a room away from it all, with a door that we must shut, so we have no distractions (even from the view) to divert us from our daily writing goal. And we must show up at the same time every day and set a goal to get down a certain amount of words. We don't stop writing until we have accomplished the goal we have set for ourselves. We write and then as we write the muse comes. It is not the other way around. We do not wait for the muse to show up to start writing. That is the way NOT to be a writer. And by the way, he says as a beginner we can make our goal a 1000 words per day (his goal is 2000 words/day). But the point is, we write until we have written whatever goal we have set for ourselves down. It is our job as a writer. We need to be disciplined and not cheat ourselves. It takes a lot of self-control. My inner-critic can be very creative and persuasive at coming up with reasons why I do not have the time to commit to making writing a priority, and in convincing me that my writing aspirations are too lofty for someone not naturally talented, such as myself. Writing is clearly not for the faint of heart.
"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."
Consistency is a new concept for me. I write and paint a lot, but I do not do it every day. I mean, I write something most days, but I haven't had a goal before. If I did not feel like it, I simply didn't do it. So, I am going to try to make writing and painting my job.
"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."
King also says we must write about topics that we know intimately (and maybe even love). We can't just randomly pick any author and emulate their writing style and interests (although he does suggest that we read a lot on the topic that interests us and that we will emulate another artist's work that we do love to begin with and that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to do that...he has done it himself...phew!) thinking if we do, we can make loads of money and be on "easy-street" like them. That kind of thinking is a pile of bunk. Writers who make it "big", work their asses off. There is no "easy-street". We can assume that the stories that float our boats, were created by someone who took the time to lock themselves away, and translate the miracle of a story telling, from the ether, to the rest of us on the physical plane, who do perhaps like to be on "easy street"? Thank God for the writers who write the stories that inspire and please us, they improve the quality of our lives. And unless we are willing to give up a big part of our own life, and lock ourselves away, invest our passion into the craft of story telling, we probably won't be a good writer. That's what I hear. Dreams do come true, but only if we work for them. If I want to write, I need to put the time and energy into the craft and it needs to be about a topic that speaks to me about me. It is the only way
King says to pay attention to what we do like to read. I f we don't read anything, we are probably not going to be a writer. So I had to think about what it is that I love and what I read? The answer to those two questions will tell me about the kind of book I could write. That is my map. I read non-fiction books about the spiritual principles that I am passionate about. I like to paint pictures about fun, spiritual and happy ideas. I do not like painting sad and dark pieces (sometimes I do though). I love bright, whimsical and colourful art that is related to my belief that we manifest our destinies with our thoughts. And that is what I like to read about. I like to imagine a world where peace prevails, where people are passionate about art and where we learn to see the good in others and our environment. I like to imagine a world where we put our focus on those kind of possibilities. Not everyone likes to read about that stuff. But I do. So that is what I need to write about. It is my thing. It is my gift. And it is a start.
I have come to see that writers give up a big part of their lives, to make our lives more exciting. Imagine a world without stories and art. How dull it would be to live like that. I remember when I was a child there was a Christmas movie about a town where no one was allowed to sing, or play. It was a sad and dull Christmas for those characters, but it was a great idea for a story where a hero could rescue the village and bring back Christmas and the joy that comes along with creative expression. If we were not allowed to be creative, write, paint or sing, imagine how dull our lives would be. And now think of the blessings we get to experience because we have all of these talented and driven people who lock themselves away and create beautiful, colourful and interesting art and stories for us. I am now thinking differently about them. Are you?
Here is a list of some of the things we can do to make a writer of ourselves:
1.We need to have a love of the written word.
2. We need to read a lot on the topics we love.
3. We need a place to hole up in.
4. Do not take your phone with you or other distractions (for example: TV, computer etc...).
5. Set a goal for how many words you will write each day.
6. Do not leave until you have those words written.
7. Share your writing.
8. Don't believe in talent as much as you believe in good work ethics.
9. Have fun in your imaginary world where anything is possible.
10. If you love someone, it is perfectly acceptable to be inspired by what they do and to use that inspiration as a stepping off point for your own writing (or painting).
P.S. I have never considered myself to be a good writer, but over the past year I have had stories published in magazines, a chapter in the #1 Best Selling book Super Women Myths, and published my own children's book, Shoo Shoo Shoo Sha La La. Not bad for a start hey!
Thanks for reading this and feel free to leave me your feedback around this or any other ideas you have.