Last week I bought two things – well, I bought several things, but among them were:
- The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron
- a daylight-mimicking lamp for my desk at work
I’d flicked through the book in the shop, as you do, but it was only when I’d brought it home and started at the beginning that the irony struck me.
I remembered the problem – my problem, I should say – with Julia Cameron.
Morning pages. Or, rather, her insistence that morning pages are essential, that, before you do anything else, you should dump the contents of your head into a notebook, and that if you have to get up early to do it, then that’s what you should do.
I understand the theory, and I am perfectly willing to admit that dumping the contents of my head into a notebook has been very useful to me on more than one occasion. I just can’t do it every day, and I definitely can’t do it first thing in the morning.
I am not a morning person. I am particularly not a morning person when it’s dark when I have to get up. And I have to get up at six thirty as it is. September hits me like a steamroller, every year, when the morning retreats that little bit further and whatever it is in my head that gets me out of bed stops working. If I were to set the alarm for 6.10am, I would spend the twenty minutes between it going off and my having to start getting ready for work lying in bed hating myself. I’ve tried it.
In fact, I was very happy to realise this morning that it’s now October and therefore not too depressing to look forward to the clocks going back.
And so morning pages are not an option for me. I am not even tempted. At this time of year, any sort of ritual that asks me to get up earlier than strictly necessary is not an option for me. So I’m not doing them.
I will, however, read the rest of the book with interest and an open mind.
It is not exactly news to me that some techniques work for some people and don’t work for others. What’s changed is my reaction to discovering that this is one that didn’t work for me. In past years I’d have given up on the whole thing in disgust. Now I’m prepared to pick and mix.
What I am working on at the moment is retaining the baby – in this case, Julia Cameron’s otherwise humane, compassionate and patient approach to the artistic process – while ditching the bathwater. She runs the bath too hot for me.