Less is More, More or Less
I must confess, it’s been far too long since I’ve written about (or event thought about) my rules. MORE is needed, even as I commit to writing LESS posts so I can edit my novel MORE.
I was reminded of this when I started reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. The cover describes it as a “course in discovering and recovering your creative self.” I could go on, telling you it’s “an international bestseller (that) has inspired millions to overcome the limiting beliefs and fears that can inhibit the creative process”… but this isn’t a book review.
This is me re-counting a personal discovery. One of my ten rules, the first one to be exact, was wrong. Actually, wrong is overly harsh. Let me try again. Rule #1 was LESS than it should be because it was about having LESS of something instead of MORE of something.
v1: Rule #1 – No More Obligations to the Daily Routine of Life
What are obligations to the daily routine of life? And if they’re daily routines of life, how can you be less obligated to them? These are the questions I asked myself every time I tried to describe what I meant. I came to this realization on my own a few months ago and wrote about it:
First, I should tell you Experience More Than the Daily Routine of Life began as No More Obligations to the Daily Routine of Life. Every time I tried to explain this No More concept, I was left feeling that something was wrong. The truth of the matter is that we must have obligations to the daily routine of life. We must do the chores and cook the food and complete our work and clean the clothes – or we will suffer far greater consequences. But we MUST be careful this is not all we do. We MUST experience more.
Experience More Than the Daily Routine of Life is about getting outside of your daily routine and doing anything to see – hear – touch – taste – EXPERIENCE something new. It leads to unexpected energy and creative inspiration. It leads to a richer life and more stories to share
v2: Rule #1 – Experience More than the Daily Routine of Life
What is most inspiring is that this self-discovery continued – thanks to having read Cameron’s chapter on Basic Tools. I mean, I haven’t even gotten into the meat of the book and already my artist is feeling nourished – ready to refine Rule #1 even more. A reminder that sometimes all you have to do is get back to the basics. Or in my case, get back to The Rules.
Here’s my take on her first two tools: Once you’ve gotten the garbage out of your head (Writing Morning Pages) you have better access to your inner artist. However, your inner artist needs to be full of experiences so you better be re-filling the inventory (Honoring the Artist Date).
Tool 1: Morning Pages (3 stream of consciousness pages written by hand each morning)
It was day one and I was just concluding page three when the rules spilled out. All ten of them. I acknowledged them and why they are important to me – then I sealed them in an envelope. The feeling was powerful. I can write anything down on paper. Anything I’m feeling, wanting, needing, thinking about when I wake up. Then simply let it go. What started as a laundry list of chores and tasks and responsibilities led me back to my rules but I didn’t have to obsess about any of it. Just give it a nod and let it go. Garbage out!
Tool 2: Artist Date (alone time each week to explore something that interests you)
On day two I continued reading and learned about the second tool I need on my 12-week journey. It struck me that her words were my Rule #1. Not in LESS words but in MORE words. In my attempts to describe what this rule means to me I have been describing the things I will do LESS of because I couldn’t find the words to describe what I would do MORE of.
“It its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you pre-plan and defend against all interlopers… Your artist needs to be taken out, pampered, and listened to… The artist brain is the sensory brain: sight and sound, smell and taste, touch. These are the elements of magic, and magic is the elemental stuff of art.”
Cameron goes on to tell me that when I’ve done these two things – gotten the garbage out and filled my reserves with inspiration – my artful ideas will eek out, especially while performing repetitive tasks. I know she’s writing just for me because she’s naming all the things I do when I have my most brilliant ideas. She tells me I might find myself driving a car, chopping vegetables, or simply walking down the street and voila, there it is. Which is how it happened to me with Rule #1.
Day one I’m writing my morning pages and re-visiting my rules. Day two I’m reading about dating my artist and taking her out to play. Day three I’m walking down the street and it becomes clear – Rule #1 is about MORE experiences, not LESS obligations.
v3: Rule #1 – Create Experiences that are MORE than Routine
I’m still working on how to word it, but at least I now understand what I need MORE of… more play-dates with my artist, more time spent outside, more adventures for the sake of the adventure, more sights and sounds and smells and tastes and colors and images and (breathe)… more time with my artist.
Maybe you can help me re-write Rule #1. Any suggestions?