On this blog, it is important that I address one of the biggest hurdles of an evidence-based creativity approach, like the one I teach.
And that is that a lot of famous, professional artists don’t feel like they can explain where their creativity comes from. For many of them, the moments of inspiration seem to take on almost a spiritual nature.
One of the most influential proponents of this way of thinking is author Julia Cameron, who wrote one of the most widely-cited creativity books of all time: The Artist’s Way.
This book introduced the practice of writing “Morning Pages”.
Writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness text, freehand and without judgement, every morning.
This practice aims to help artists who feel “stuck” and not able to produce their best work, by kickstarting their creativity every morning and overcoming judgement.
Check out the video above for a recent interview with Julia Cameron by Chase Jarvis, to find out her thought process behind the Morning Pages.
Now, if you watch the video you will quickly see how Julia and I have very different interpretations about what is going on when people are being creative. She talks about connecting with spirits and muses, and even communicating with dead people.
I prefer to talk about what the research tells us.
But that doesn’t mean I think Morning Pages are a bad idea.
In fact, I think they might actually deliver what they set out to do: Helping people get into a rhythm of producing creative work more regularly and getting over blockages.
But there are other, more scientific reasons why they probably work.
Firstly: practice can help us overcome the parts of the brain which self-censor us. This is what happens to improvisers when they begin being spontaneous.
Secondly: Ideas always need to start somewhere. A blank page is one of the hardest places to begin, because there is no source to grow from. But by getting lots of ideas down on a page, it then automatically triggers the brain to form new networks, which can result in more ideas down the line.
Thirdly: By being forced to produce in a stream-of-consciousness manner at speed, it prevents the brain from being able to instil rules which the ideas need to conform to. These rules have been shown to be one of the original sources of writer’s block in the first place, and by moving at speed they can allow the brain to overcome them.
So while Julia and I may see the world in different ways, we can both agree that there is value in creative rituals every day.
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