Lessons Learned from Weekly Writing Exercises

Book Discussion

Weekly writing exercises aren't quite as difficult for me as daily morning pages, but I'll admit that I still struggle with them. Yet I still find myself thinking about the writing prompts in Julia Cameron's My Artist's Way Toolkit, even if I don't put a pen to paper. I'm not always good at putting my thoughts down but these exercises are still teaching me some important lessons.

For example, take the recent writing prompt about describing three enemies of my creative self-worth. Oh, I know who they are. Hello there Doubt, Fear and Embarrassment, my not-so-dear old friends. I really prefer not to write about you. Or think about you. I know you are there, lurking around in the background but I like to think that if I just ignore you, you'll eventually go away.

Granted, I've been working on getting rid of Embarrassment for approximately 25 years so I'm not sure that this tactic is working. I once wrote a story in my writing journal, as we were supposed to do in class, without thinking about the fact that my teacher sometimes read our stories out loud. There was something a wee bit embarrassing and overnight I decided I would take my trusty eraser out the next day and make it go away. The only problem is that I wasn't in class the next guess and guess what the teacher decided to read. Yep. Guess who got teased. Yep. That was when I learned just how true the old saying about the pen being mightier than the sword really is and now much it sucks to be impaled by your own pen. (I know. I should be over this by now. I'm working on it.)

writing pen

Luigi Crespo on Flickr

Lest you think that Cameron only wants us to focus on the dark side, she's also asked us to consider the champions of our creative self-worth and put them in our Hall of Champions. Thanks to writing I can metaphorically hang awards of Independence, Community and Friendship. Writing has given me wonderful gifts and I too often forget that when Fear and Doubt raise their ugly heads. I think the bigger thing in that particular exercise was this statement:

"Even if you disbelieve a compliment, record it. It may well be true."

Excuse me while I pull from my bag of quotes and pop culture references, but as Julia Roberts once said in Pretty Woman, the bad stuff is easier to believe. Doubt and Fear loom larger than anything else. I'm going to to write down those good things and try to remember them.

And I'm going to remember that just because I write something, doesn't mean it has to be a blog post. One of things that really I appreciate about Cameron's writing exercises -- be it through writing prompts or morning pages -- is the reminder that it's ok to write just for me and not share it. Not everything I write has to go public. I'll freely admit that I found it easier to write on my personal blog when I was kind of, sort of, anonymous. I was never truly anonymous because there were always people who knew who I was, but that wasn't the same as having my name attached to everything. It's been a few years and I'm still adjusting to it. Hey, I'm still dealing with elementary school writing embarrassment. I adapt to these things slowly!

So thank you Julia Cameron, for reminding that it's ok for writing to be messy. Thank you for reminding me that the good things are just as likely to be true as the bad things. Thank you for reminding me I can still be me and I can still write for me.

What have you learned from Julia Cameron and the My Artist's Way Toolkit?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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