The Artist’s Unique Way of Warming Up

The Artist’s Way is kind of like a 12-step program to “recover your creativity.” Julia Cameron suggests writing three pages every day from the top of your head. Brainstorming, stream of consciousness. Pick your euphemism. I have thought of it as “warming up” to write rather than actually writing The Soul of Atlas. But I need to take this warming up process more seriously.

I am doing this process to see where it leads. What I need to do is go beyond it. What’s next after the warm up? If you warm up, it’s for a race. If you don’t race, what good is the warm up? Maybe stretching is good, but you know what I mean. So the next step is to pick up my manuscript and read it through, taking notes. What is each chapter missing in terms of flow, and write to fill the gaps. I am afraid of throwing things away, my writing that is, what I have written so far because I am afraid I will need it and want it later, saying “Oh no, I threw that away. Now it’s gone!”. Of course, I have already printed it out, so I am sure that I could go back and retrieve it somehow. The following approach seems to work and I will plan for it:

  • Go through the manuscript with all of my changes (not throwing anything away).
  • When I have gone through (and I should highlight anything that is in doubt, or suspicious, so that I will trim everything down).
  • Then after I have gone through, made changes to the text (from my hard-copy notes), and highlighted all of the text that I am tempted to throw out, I can go back and see where, if anywhere, these highlighted portions might fit.
  • If nowhere, be ruthless.

Maybe my editor can help me with that. I can see the crack of light at the end, and I am excited about the prospect.