Thursday, 7 January 2016

Who really likes practising?

... an instrument I mean?

Or should I ask, who really likes the thought of having to sit down to go over the same stuff day in day out!   I for one have always hated it.  Once I'm sitting down, guitar on knee or voice exercises on the stereo then I'm usually ok.   But the way to getting there is dreadful.   It's all worth it in the end but ....

I read lots of blogs about the practice of art, or the practice of daily writing.   And the one practice I can manage, is to do my morning pages most days.   In fact at the moment I'm considering taking up the challenge laid down several years ago by Janice McLeod (she of the wonderful book Paris Letters
which I'm currently devouring) of doing morning pages every day for a year.   When I did them before for an extended period of time, writing songs came very easily to me, as did the basics of settling down to practice, or do publicity or whatever the task at hand was.  I managed to write more or less every day for 10 months and have picked up the practice over and over again in the intervening years.

For those of you who don't know, 'morning pages' is a practice promoted by Julia Cameron in her wonderful book "The Artist's Way".  In it, she suggests that the mainstay of any art, or indeed of a creative life,  is to learn how to bypass the critic.  And her practice of writing 3 pages long-hand every morning is wonderful.  It's cathartic, a great place for moaning, and a great place for working out problems.

Now, many years after first completing The Artist's Way and writing my first morning pages, I don't stick with having to write first thing in the morning.  Writing at any time during the day works for me.   Just showing up at that journal is what's important.   And writing by hand    And while most days I manage the 3 A4 pages, or 6 A5, there are some days when I only have time for one, or for a list or a note.   And that counts too.  It gives me a place to settle in to myself again.

Will it get me to a place where I willingly sit down to practice?   Probably not :)   But it might make something else come around.

14 comments:

  1. Thanks, I have heard of morning pages before but never knew what they were. I used to hate practise Fil, which is why I gave up the piano many years ago. Nowadays I wish I hadn't but then I was a kid. You however, have to do your practise, so I hope you find a way of getting into it more easily.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement Jo, I know ... I need to get down to it :)
      There's great music books around now for people starting up piano again after just having done a little bit as children ... they're great fun if you ever fancied having a go again.

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  2. A very interesting idea, Fil and I can see how this might unlock certain thoughts and inspirations. How much time does it take though to write 3 A4 pages because I often find I've spent at least an hour in the morning writing just a blog post and visiting and commenting on a few others? However, I'm all for new ideas as you know so I might give this a go and see what happens! Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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    1. Well it used to take me about 20 - 25 minutes - a real scribble - but the idea is that it's not real writing - you're just getting rid of rubbish out of your head and no-one's going to read it except yourself. I'd highly recommend the Artist's Way Pempi - it's worth reading. Let us know how you get on.

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    2. PS Nowadays I often only get a bit done - this morning I was really busy and only got 2 A5 pages done, but it had the same effect on me.

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  3. Hi Fil - what an interesting blog post - telling us about a practise that makes sense ... I think I could do that with typing - I much prefer to type ... so perhaps I could just switch all other bits off and get to it.

    I so need to read this year too ... and make more use of my time ... I will think about this and be back to read again.

    Cheers and all the best for your writing and composing and singing ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary - I think you've hit the nail on the head, it's the switching everything else off for a while that makes it interesting.

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  4. It sounds a great idea!!! I'd like to do this although my hand seizes up after too much writing!x

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    1. Hi Kezzie - mine used to do that too, but I tried lots of different pens and found one that I could just scribble with and often I would just watch the pen moving across the paper and never planned what I'd write.

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  5. I read the artists way years ago. I needed something to remind me of that habit, so thank you. Another habit I have done on occasion is to write five things I was grateful for during the day. Normally this is done at bedtime. A nice way to round off the day and go to bed with happy thoughts.

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    1. I did that for a while and it was lovey way to finish the day. .. Thank you for the reminder too :)

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  6. I used to write a lot of things by hand, then transcribe to the computer. Found it very relaxing and a great way to organize my thoughts and not skip anything in the process. Usually do it in the summer when I can sit outside and simply take in Mother Nature for a spell.

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  7. Hi Fil I also have done morning pages for several years and now I just journal but not every day.The one thing about morning pages is you can get all the negative stuff downn and put it away and the rest of the day is devoted to more important things in life. You aren't dragging all the crap around...heheh

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  8. Hi Fil...
    I could so relate to this post. (Although, I enjoy all of your posts.) Sitting down with my mandolin or guitar to work on scales to better my leads is my least favorite thing to do. Practicing a set for an upcoming concert is not fun either. But yes, you're right about the payoff. The feeling of being prepared is well worth it! You're the only other person I know who has read The Artist's Way and practices the morning pages. It's been helpful to write when I seem to be unable to focus whatever time of day that happens to be. Julia Cameron has been such an inspiration to me!
    I somehow missed your website when visiting before. I listened to many of your beautiful songs this morning. Your voice is so clear and lovely. Perhaps, someday I'll be able to attend a concert. Do you ever travel to the US?

    I need to visit you here more often. Your blog is so inspiring. Have a wonderful day and best wishes with your creative endeavors.

    Tamara <3

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