I wake up each morning at 5:45am to write in my journal - or my Morning Pages, as Julia Cameron calls them. At first, I was setting my alarm, much to my husband's chagrin. ("Alexa. Alexa, cancel alarm... Alexa!") Now it is a delightful routine I treasure and look forward to.
I love the solitude and the quiet time. No kids, dogs, morning breakfast and lunch-making routine for another hour. It's just me and my thoughts, made beautiful with their pre-dawn, unfiltered truth. Raw and edgy, but also filled with excitement and optimism to do and become.
Admittedly, once the coffee wears off and the day kicks in, I struggle a bit with the earliness of this practice. And I find sometimes too, that this time can feel like a race against my kids for the morning - puting a limit to what I would love and revere if it were otherwise limitless.
But it's an hour I have all to myself nonetheless, and I am grateful for that. I only wish I could easily recapture that sense of uncensored creative freedom and commitment to my work after the day sets in, with its more pressing tasks like email, Facebook and laundry.
I have to ask myself though: Are these things truly distractions or are they conscious choices that legitimize my procrastination? I mean whatever label I give them - chores, to-do lists, internet browsing, domestic responsibility - they are all pushing me further away from creative practice.
Yes, my morning journal writing is an artistic outlet - a form of writing, self reflection and mindfulness rolled up in one. A form of meditation, even. But I need more throughout my day, not just the 55 minutes I get before the house wakes up.
"So just do it. Make it happen. You have the time...even if it's available in drips and drabs. Just show up to your work!" my inner-optimist says smugly to my self-critisizing and shiny-object-loving Ego.
Is it that easy?
Yes and no.
It clearly takes dedication and at least some semblance of a routine; a time of day dedicated to writing or rehearsing, creative brain space to garner ideas. So not necessarily easy in that respect.
But time spent this way also yields well deserved escape, manifestation and adventure - benefits far greater (in number and in quality) than the costs. In looking at it that way, yes. Easy.
This reminds me of the Artist's Prayer I wrote, as part of Julia Cameron's set of creative healing exercises. In part, it reads:
I promise to stay focused, but also to play and nourish my sense of adventure.
I promise to stay humble, but also to keep my frequency high, shamelessly saying ‘yes’ to the offers presented to me.
I promise to explore, tirelessly, my capacity for joy and curiosity - unabashed by my failures or missteps that try holding me back.
I took this very seriously when I wrote it, and and am doing my best staying committed to my words now and every day - paying close attention to my creative impulses and making room to nourish each one. Even if that takes the form of a ten minute writing spurt, character study while waiting for my Americano at Peete's, playing an improv game with my boys during dinner. Because these are creative outlets in their own right, and they all count.
Of course, there will still be days without limit or restraint; without distraction or procrastination. And I will revel in that too, when it's available. Nothing like hanging out with my inspiration for a while, no matter what the outcome.
But let's face it: These opportunities are outnumbered by our daily norms, so while we cherish them when they're here, we can't lament too dramatically when they're gone. Just show up when we can and do our very best to honor and support ourselves as Artists.
And that is very much...enough.
I will be at the dining room table tomorrow morning at 5:45am again, fueled by what I might uncover through my own insights and the words I unleash to express them. The hour will be mine alone, and whatever added creativity I bring with me throughout the rest of the day - no matter the form or amount of time - is viable and worth my gratitude.