Monday, February 6, 2012

Clearing the Chatter

The chapter in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way that introduces the "reading moratorium" always sparks a mini-rebellion. I have gone through this book with three different groups, and every time, someone declares, "I'm not going to do that!" The exercise for the week is to give up all reading (after you finish reading that week's chapter), radio, and television. For one week, you are to observe the world around you, talk with friends and family, write, take photos, listen to music, and anything else that does not involve putting someone else's pre-scripted words into your head. People who actually try it (including me) find it much better than they expected. It's kind of a relief to cut the chatter and just look at things with your own eyes. Once the cloud of commentary disperses, you find that your own voice starts making tentative statements inside your head. The little voice gets bolder the more you acknowledge and appreciate it.

This past month (and it has only been one month!) has been a time of clearing out the chatter and slowing the pace waaaaaay down. I still read the newspaper in the morning, and I watch a few TV shows at night. However, I'm not devouring stuff on the internet like I was before. I check in on FaceBook and email maybe once or twice a day. Some days, I don't check in at all. (This is a source of frustration to friends who want to schedule an impromptu lunch. I may not get their message until the next day.) Most of the time, in true introvert fashion, I'm thinking my own thoughts, working on my own projects around the house, staring off into space and thinking about nothing in particular. I do meet friends for lunch or a movie now and then. If I see you on the street while I'm taking my walk, I will stop and talk. I enjoy that. But I'm not signing up for courses, volunteering for committees, or even reading the books that I have stacked up by my bed.

Already, my inner voice is coming up with ideas, especially in the morning, before my logic-brain is fully awake and in control. Little snippets of thought, ideas of things to do, funny juxtapositions, lists of things that make me happy. I am getting back into the habit of jotting these things down and putting the notes where I can find them again. The ideas become more fully formed and creative when I open up the space for them to grow. And opening up the space for my own thoughts is pretty much why I'm on this little adventure in the first place.


  1. And I am enjoying the journey with you, Nancy :-) Keep up the great work of rediscovering the beautiful YOU :-)

  2. This has got to be true. I've noticed that I NEED to have something constantly in front of me to read or watch -- if left to my own devices anymore, I cast about for some train of thought to attach to, but there's not much there from my own imagination any more. It would involve a painful kind of withdrawal to stop relying on outside sources to furnish a host for my now-parasitic imagination, but that's probably what is needed. Hmm.

    1. Actually, the key is not to remove all outside sources, but just the pre-manufactured ones. What Julia Cameron recommends instead is to go out and people-watch, cruise around the farmer's market, sit and watch the birds on the water, take a long walk. It's kind of like a garden, where you pull the weeds that have taken over the place, then plant something else that you really want.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.