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Spark Creativity with This 11-Minute Daily Practice

Spark Creativity with This 11-Minute Daily Practice

I embraced myself as a creative person after taking a class called The Artist's Way, based on the book written by the amazing Julia Cameron. Up until then, I had not made peace with my inner artist, preferring instead to pursue a life that made others happy but that was never fulfilling for me.

A foundational concept in The Artist's Way is a daily writing practice called morning pages: a daily, stream of consciousness writing practice.

To say that morning pages changed my life might sound a bit dramatic. Nonetheless, it's the absolute truth.

This practice purges stuff from your mind so that there is more mental bandwidth available for the sparks and creativity that fuel happiness, passion projects, joy, artistic endeavors, and more.

This daily writing practice has allowed me to explore new ideas, release fears, heal old wounds, and forgive myself for following paths and people that didn't serve me. It's helped me finally accept myself as the artist I've always been, but who I had given up on as a young girl. It has reduced feelings of overwhelm, eliminated anxiety, and resulted in a surge of creativity and idea flow.

You see, for creativity, happiness, and contentment, to flow, you have to remove barriers. These barriers come in all forms - from fear and stuck-ness to resistance, anger, resentment, sadness, grief, or all of the above.

Does this sound too simple? That just putting the stuff that's in your head onto paper could be so beneficial? That's what I thought, too.

Until I committed to doing it.

Holy crap. I could not believe what came pouring out every day. Yelling. Raw sadness. People I hadn't thought of in years. Poetry. To-Do lists. Business ideas. And so much more. It was like popping a big zit. Like cleaning out my head space so better, cleaner, happier thoughts could flow in.

I had been suffering from anxiety for several years when I discovered this daily practice. I had dealt with many forms of stress, pressure, and imposter syndrome for decades. Morning pages changed all of this. It has been more beneficial than therapy, meditation, self-help books ever were. And its benefits were apparent very quickly - in about one week!

So, if you are looking for a daily practice that can truly change your life, spark creativity, and release your inner creator, I hope you'll try this one. It's simple. It's uncomplicated. And here's how you do it.

1. Write as early in the morning as you can.

Morning is best for this practice because purging your thoughts early leaves you ready to start the day with a clear mind. I do know some folks who prefer to write their pages before bed, but do that only if you must. Morning is best.

2. Pick a writing method.

Paper or digital, your choice. I use GoogleDocs. Purists maintain that it must be done with paper and pen, but I don't agree. I tried writing with a pen for three days and my hand could not keep up with the flow of words from my mind.

I am most comfortable on the keyword. You might prefer a journal. Use the method that is most comfortable, so you will commit to this practice daily.  Consistency is key.

3. Set a timer for a minimum of 11 minutes.

As part of the The Artist's Way class, we wrote a full three pages each day, and that was taking me about 30 minutes. Three pages is awesome if you can do it, but after about six weeks, I found it harder and harder to do my pages because my life was busy. So I started skipping the writing all together. Not good.

I've learned the hard way that when I stop doing my daily writing for more than a few days, those old feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, and negative self-talk come back. Yup. You gotta keep up with writing daily to keep the mental clean out moving. If you don't, your thoughts literally get stopped up.

So, I tried different time increments and eventually landed on 11 minutes. It's more than 10, I like odd numbers, and it's what I could stick with every day. I often write a bit longer especially on weekends. But my minimum commitment is 11 minutes, every day.

4. Write the first thing that pops into your mind, and just keep going.

I mean this literally. Write whatever comes flying through your brain in that moment. This could be as pedestrian as: put sheets in dryer after this, I want coffee, why is that dog barking? It doesn't matter. Just write it down and don't judge it. You are cleaning house up there, and every thought counts.

Some people who start this practice ask, "what if I nothing to write? What if my mind is blank?" My response is: then that's what you write:

I have nothing to write. I don't know what to write. What will I write? I have nothing to say.

I'm serious. Just keep writing that over and over again and I promise you, other things will start flowing. In fact you will be amazed at what pours out.

5. Don't edit.

No one is going to read this - not even you. Make spelling mistakes. Forget punctuation. Use run on sentences. It's all perfect. Just write and don't worry about the mistakes.  

6. Let it go.

When you are finished, put the paper in an envelope and seal it. Close or delete the GoogleDoc. Throw out the journal page. The point is getting the thoughts out and eliminating the blocks and barriers. You don't need to read what you wrote ever again if you don't want to, and you're not giving it to anyone. Just forget about it and let it go.

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