I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now

A Bout of Sincerity

It must’ve been my recent return to poetry, Chipmunks.

Lately, I’ve felt somethin’ coming on. Sometimes I mistake it for melodrama. Or, at best, awkward earnestness.

That’s right.

Serious writing.

Though never insincere, I wasn’t always all guilty pleasures and goofy PowerPoint presentations. In my teens, humor only crept into my writing via dialogue. Everything else was angst-y and maudlin. I filled dozens of journals with lovesick poetry. Some of it wasn’t half bad.

In college, I discovered writers like Bill Bryson and David Sedaris, and realized that was the genre I wanted to pursue: humorous memoir. I’ve always found the truth more profound with levity. I like it when a protagonist’s journey makes me laugh despite the tears.

Nevertheless, the old poetry itch is back, and I don’t want this blog to suffer for it; we all know this place is the Uncle Jesse to my Aunt Becky. So today I thought I’d just quickly mention something a liiiittle more serious. A little behind-the-scenes look at my writing life.

I spend a lot of time on creative exercises and figuring out how to find and follow my passion(s). I handwrite, stream-of-consciousness style, for 30 minutes every morning, first thing. I take a daily walk, and once a week, I try to go on a mini adventure that sparks my creativity. On Sundays, I spend about an hour or two ‘checking in’ with myself, writing about recurring issues and the little miracles that happen when you get in touch with your creative nature.

Artists-Way-stache-glassesThese practices are, yes, a huge time commitment; I shower at night and get up at 5:30 in the morning to write before I drive an hour to work. But these exercises are a lifesaver for me, and if they sound familiar, you probably read about them in The Artist’s Way. Much like blogging, Julia Cameron’s books have changed my life in unimaginable ways.

They’re the reason I volunteered to help Marlene film the pilot webisode of My Parents Are Crazier Than Yours. The reason I had the nerve to attend my first blogging conference, meet up with Rache from Rachel’s Table, and sign up for that web design class.

Thanks to this blog and The Artist’s Way, I’ve identified concrete goals and watched them spring to life. I’ve learned that if you ask for a creative helping hand, and open yourself to possibility, the universe always delivers. Some of you have been the messengers!

I’ve never met Julia Cameron, have no affiliation with The Artist’s Way, and never thought I’d talk about this here, but my blog has always embraced the things we all love -however logical or…not– without shame. And so: I love these books.

If you’re feeling stuck and really ready to make a change, they might help you, too.

Have you ever read any of The Artist’s Way books? What inspires (or blocks) your creativity?

P.S. – Lest you think I’ve fallen off the guilty pleasure wagon, I’m drinking vodka right now and I’ve got somethin’ spectacular in the works for you later this week. It might be the most bloggy fun I’ve EVER HAD.

45 thoughts on “A Bout of Sincerity”

    1. Thanks, Susie! I think you’d really enjoy them. I was hesitant to pick it back up because I thought the ‘morning pages’ would be WAY too much of a commitment… now I think I’d lose my mind without them!

    1. I hope you do, Renzzz! The Artist’s Way definitely forces you to face a lot of things – but you get to know yourself again, which (at the risk of sounding pompous) turns out to feel a lot like falling in love.

  1. Wow. That routine sounds . . . daunting. But bravo to you for knowing what you want to do and doing what’s necessary to get there! Sounds like an interesting book.

    And don’t worry . . . you can pull out serious Jules every once in a while. We still love you. But I can’t wait to see what’s up your sleeve for later in the week. You know I love your bloggy shenanigans! 😉

    1. I can’t tell you how long I put off reading it again, Misty, because I was so sure I couldn’t keep up, or get up any earlier to do the morning writing. But now I get really cranky if anything stands in the way of me doing this stuff.

      And thank you for saying that! I’m always afraid I might stray too far off into Earnest-ville.


  2. i love your creative exercises. it takes a lot of discipline. i was really inspired by anne lamont’s bird by bird. great writing book. never heard of the artist’s way – i’ll check it out! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I haven’t read that one by Anne Lamont, but it sounds like I oughta! Definitely let me know what you think of The Artist’s Way if you check it out. The ‘spirituality’ component can be disconcerting at first, but there’s just so much truth to everything she says, and when you start seeing the ‘synchronicity’ in your life, you can’t not believe [in its effectiveness]!

  3. I’ve read Artist’s Way a few times – the “morning pages” is surprisingly useful and has been – more than anything else – the thing I’ve held on to from them. I particularly like when something belches straight from your unconscious on to the page and you think, “Huh. I didn’t know I thought that…”

    1. You don’t say (more evidence!) – this is the third time in the past 12 years that I’ve read it, but I’d only ever finished all 12 weeks once before – but during that time I bought my current lap top and completed my one and only full book (the memoir). This time I’m 20 weeks in (onto the second book), and it’s been really eye-opening. I still worry that I’ll wuss out with the pages and regress. Again.

      I was just saying to Renee that it’s like getting to know yourself all over again. “Wow, so that’s what I think / how I feel? Huh.” Even on day ONE I had a major revelation. “Oh. Well. How did I ever keep THAT from surfacing?”

    1. This is my third go at it, and definitely the longest I’ve kept up with the exercises. I really hope I can make the morning pages part of my life indefinitely. They just work wonders.

  4. Wow, half an hour of writing every morning, that’s some serious discipline. Maybe I should try that. I’ve noticed that the more i write, the more ideas I have and the more I actually want to write.
    “I’ve always found the truth more profound with levity.”- I couldn’t agree more 🙂

    1. “The more I write, the more ideas I have…” EXACTLY! And what’s great about the ‘morning pages’ is that it’s not actually WRITING. It’s just a place to dump everything on your mind so you can unburden yourself before the day really begins. You aren’t allowed to censor yourself, which is just the coolest. There’s no way NOT to uncover ideas and passions and ‘next steps’ if you do it.

  5. I found a journal type thing on Pinterest a few months before I began my blog. You write a line a day for five years and you can go back and see what you were doing on the same day for those five years. (http://25tofly.com/2012/12/03/movember-contest-winners-reveal-vlog-style/). It got me started writing again which eventually led to my blog’s birth!

    I am so jealous of the blogger convention. I have been wanting a meet up for some time now. If I could meet just one of my followers I would be happy.

  6. For some odd reason, I read very few books about writing, and I have no routine although I write (or edit) most days. I will admit that sometimes I’m too drained to write if I leave a lot of comments on other blogs. It’s like I only have so much creative energy, and I eventually run out of steam. (Yeah, being clever is hard for some of us. Whatever.)

    Like you I started out in the realm of angst-ridden poetry, but some of it was decent angst-ridden poetry. Then I wandered into short stories and a little bit into humor, but stories are my favorite by far. And I’m usually only funny by accident.

  7. What dedication you have. And I’m always inspired and love to read a fellow blogger’s process. “The Artist’s Way” sounds like an interesting read and one I’ll have to look up. Good reading something that provides inspiration and creativity.

  8. I don’t think you’ve lost your “lushosity” (I mean… humorousness)! I’ll have to add the book to my growing stack of “I need to read these books”. I finished Natalie Goldbergs, “Writing down the Bones”, and began stream-of-consciousness writing myself. Curious things I write about when I’m just writing whatever comes to my mind…

  9. Part of my theatre curriculum in college was an entire semester devoted to the Artist’s Way. I have tons of sealed manilla envelopes full of morning pages. I’m not as consistent as you are, though–I come back to it when I feel like I’ve gotten out of touch or need to uncover a road block. The rest of the time I do plain old journaling at differing times of day–but, funnily enough, always at least three pages (guess it stuck). A lot of the the other things–artist dates, information breaks, play–have all worked their way into my everyday life. I think it’s awesome that you use these tools so consistently. They sound silly (and like a huge commitment) when they’re first introduced, but they can (here’s my own bout of sincerity!) actually change your creative life.

  10. I write everyday on 750words.com (and by “everyday” I mean “I’m going to get back into it soon). You should check it out if you haven’t already.

    As always, you’re an inspiration. To be honest, it never even occurred to me that there were blogging conferences. I have to check that book out too.

  11. I did read The Artiists Way when I was in Syracuse, N.Y., and it sparked me to begin journaling in 1996. It also motivated me to try some new things such as join a writers’ group (did so briefly, but it was fun).
    As “L.A. Story” (1991, a Steve Martin film) said, “Let your mind go and your body will follow.” Good luck to you.

  12. I really admire your dedication to the craft of writing. This is a great reminder that writers are people who, by definition, write.

    And “I’m going to chop my ear off any day?” – just about perfect, Van Jules.

    1. Thanks, Peggles! I’m kind of afraid to see all of what I’ve filed under that category at this point.

      P.S. – Bloggy faux pas alert – I really feel that you need to check out B-Man’s latest post at your earliest convenience.

      1. I’ve been AWOL for almost a week. I saw the sheet competition in my Reader and figured I’d better eat lunch first to gather my strength. Heading over there.

  13. I took up the morning pages to support a friend (who took 3 years to complete the book — but didn’t do morning pages & I’m fair-certain she skipped a bunch of other exercises). Point is, I kept writing for YEARS. I’d never kept a diary as a child, teen, etc. It ended up (being stream of consciousness) as a dumping ground for all the crap I had to do. It wasn’t a to-do list but I’d talk about those things and I kinda think that got some of them out of my head (or the fret concerning). I picked up on about 2 years ago and was shocked because I’d flipped open to my cancer scare in my twenties. I read several pages and while OF COURSE I recall my cancer scare and some life-changing moments from it, I was amazed at some of the stuff that went on those pages. Amazed. Not freaked out, just like, ‘Whoa.’

    That’s a long sharing cos I’m long-winded but I think morning pages are lovely.

  14. I’m adding the Artist’s Way to my Christmas list. I love the seemingly serious photo of the book with glasses. And yet…’stache glasses make everything funny!

    I have to thank the Artist’s Way for giving you courage to meet me face to face. I can be pretty intimidating. 😉

  15. I love seeing this serious side! I read and tried The Artist’s Way years ago. It’s probably something I should do again. I’ve certainly veered away from my more serious stuff too.

  16. Oh, Jules. I’ve had the Artist’s Way book sitting in a box in storage for years. It’s not collecting dust *literally* (because I put it in an airtight Rubbermaid container for safe keeping), but I still don’t have any intention to take it out from its hiding spot just yet. I blame the seasonal/chaotic nature of self-employment. Routines become too difficult to establish and maintain when you don’t know what’s coming up the next day, week, or month. (Excuses, I know.) Congratulations for finding something that works for you, though. I admire your dedication!

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