Start From Where You Are For Blogging and Art Journaling
This is not the first time I have titled a blog post with this title. And it won't be the last either.
Start from where you are.
It's the best advice I can give anyone looking to explore their creativity, find truth, or get started on a project that feels daunting. For this advice, I am thinking of the bloggers and art journalers who have joined me on this month-long challenge to blog or art journal every day. I am thinking of my commitment to this practice, and the inspiration that I want to offer people.
I love this advice so much that I even teamed up with my friend/collaborator/colleague Holly Mae Haddock, and together, we wrote a song about it when I told her how I was going through a stuck period with songwriting, singing and guitar playing. It's called: Where I Am.
Here is the chorus:
I'm gonna start from where I am.
With no memory or plan.
I'm gonna offer who I am.
I'll be my own biggest fan.
How do you start from where you are?
For me, it's always about looking within. Connecting within. It usually means closing the eyes. Slowing down the breath. Opening the imagination. It means turning on our awareness. What do we actually feel? It means noticing what kind of energy do we have right now in this moment, before we change it all with a thought, with a "should" or a "have to"?
And then, once we get a little taste of it, we create from that place. Maybe I notice I am feeling anxious and I focus on that feeling for a moment, and then draw that feeling. Or maybe it means I have an image of a little girl, and I want to create from the space that she occupies inside me, using crayons, or dancing to music she likes.
For art journaling, it means capturing an essence of our experience, what is up for us, what feels important, juicy, or even scary. If you are art journaling, it is most likely private, and so the space of the journal page is a really safe place to let it all out. There are no limits to what you can create there--sometimes it's nice to start with something really simple. A feeling, an image, something that you are connecting with in this very moment. And then let it flow from that place.
Every blogger is different in terms of your goal, themes, styles, topics. My blogging sweet spot is about communicating something that usually stays inside. Sharing something that I would normally want to hide from people in everyday conversation. I like the feeling of the risk of sharing that kind of material on my blog. The shadow. It's what drives me. My shadow material might not look the same as yours--and it might not seem risky to you. But what's important is how it feels to you, the blogger.
One of the best, easiest and most rewarding practices for art journaling or blogging, is morning pages. For those who don't know, morning pages is an exercise that Julia Cameron invented in her book about the spirituality of creativity called The Artist's Way. It's basically the same thing as stream of consciousness writing. Her version is write 3 pages in a notebook with a pen or pencil with out stopping. I have adapted her exercise for my Art Journal Lab class, and set the timer for 15 minutes and do not limit the exercise to the morning (as our class meets in the afternoon.) Also, I am okay with doing the practice on a computer, though Julia insists on doing the morning pages with paper and pen. What matters most, in my opinion, is that you write with out editing, with out stopping, with out letting the critic get in your way. You write out the most mundane stuff in your mind, as well as the deepest stuff. It's a writing meditation, and it works. It allows us to get to know the contents of our mind before we block ourselves. The writing does not have to be good or even interesting. It's a process exercise designed to empty the chatter in our mind, and to let out the thoughts and feelings that are under that white noise. So on days you really don't know what to do with your blogging or your art journaling. Just write for 15 minutes with out stopping. If you are blogging, you might find something useful in there that you can edit or expand afterwards and turn into a blog post.
For the visual component, one thing you can do with your morning pages is scan the words after you are done to look for words that feel important to you. You can circle them with a colored pen (pen of color) and then choose one or a few to illustrate your blog post or your journal. Let yourself play--it's not about perfection but about exploring your visual senses in addition to your verbal expression.
In June 2015, I decided to quit Facebook because I was feeling frustrated by the lack of authentic expression on there--mine and others. I wanted to be real, but I didn't feel safe to be real, so I returned to my blog and committed to blogging daily for the month of June. I gave myself the parameter of writing daily for 15 minutes (morning pages on the computer). Then I gave myself another half hour to edit and expand, and add imagery and turn into a blog post. It was such a wonderful way to make my blog feel more alive, and I developed a more confessional style. I will be sharing some of those blog posts with you soon!
Let me know in the comments below how it goes for you to start from where you are.
Does any resistance come up?
If so, start from there.