Q is for Quality

| May 3, 2014

In her famous book “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron advocates the idea of “morning pages”–hand-writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness text first thing every morning. This practice is meant to clear the clutter from one’s mind so that creativity can emerge, but also to chronicle any ideas which may come up when your mind is still in that creatively-fertile alpha state between sleeping and waking consciousness. Just about anything and everything can come up in this free-writing, from nonsensical rambles and mundane observations to trenchant insights and flashes of creative brilliance.  Having occasionally done Morning Pages myself, I can attest that there’s a whole lot of crap you end up sifting through, but every so often you find some creative gems buried amidst it.

The whole point of Morning Pages, however, is to just get the words out onto the paper without judging their “quality” or lack thereof. Yet, qualifying that which we create or experience is a fundamentally human trait, not to mention an incredibly difficult habit to break. We all tend to ascribe value, good or ill, to the world around us. In one sense, doing so sets up standards and motivates us to strive for our best, but when our inner critics get nasty it can choke out that fundamental creativity. Maybe it’s impossible to completely abandon judgment or concern for quality, but if we can manage to ease up on it a little we can open ourselves to new possibilities. Or, at the very least, be a bit less attached to outcomes and a bit less worried about doing “well.”