It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. —Seneca
Cameron says the morning pages allow us to distinguish between our real, or private, feelings and our official, or public, feelings. She continues, we need to stop saying "it's okay" when officially it is but really something else is going on. Extreme emotions, positive or negative, tend to push us into avoiding the morning pages, when we most need the morning pages to process the extreme emotions.
The morning pages also, she says, show us our self, a necessary thing for the self-expression that is a vital part of art. What do I want? What do I feel? Who, at root, am I?
And it sucks finding this out, Cameron says. "As we notice which friends bore us, which situations leave us stifled, we are often rocked by waves of sorrow. We may want our illusions back! We want to pretend the friendship works. We don't want the trauma of searching for another job." We don't want to lose the mask we were wearing; it's familiar, and going about with face bare is unfamiliar and thus frightening. No pain, no gain, Cameron quotes, and adds that pain always hurts, regardless of the gain coming.
Cameron vividly describes "possible emotional pyrotechnics"—tears and laughter, giddiness and the pain of loss, volatile emotions—and then points out that the change may be more gradual. Indeed, many students of her Artist's Way say they notice no changes, when from her perspective these same people are changing rapidly. You may, she says, find yourself redoing your wardrobe, your furniture, your musical taste. "Conditioned as we are to accept other people's definitions of us, this emerging individuality can seem to us like self-will run riot. It is not."
At this point, Cameron suggests again using affirmations in the morning pages. "I trust my perceptions." "A stronger and clearer me is emerging." "I recover and enjoy my identity."
Cameron suggests an exercise, to be done as quickly as possible—write down answers as fast as you think them up:
1) List five hobbies that sound fun.
2) List five classes that sound fun.
3) List five things you personally would never do that sound fun.
4) List five skills that would be fun to have.
5) List five things you used to enjoy doing.
6) List five silly things you would like to try once.
Cameron closes the chapter with an exercise that she says is mandatory: a week of no reading.
Yes, you read that correctly. No, I'm not happy either.
Cameron believes that without reading, one will eventually run out of work and be forced to play. She's heard all the objections from people whose schoolwork or paid work involves reading, and points out that procrastinating reading for a week is common and surely one can use the same techniques that one uses to avoid reading to, well, avoid reading. To fill the time, check back with those lists you just made, or listen to music, or knit, or exercise, or cook, or meditate, or sort closets, or do watercolor painting, or talk to friends, or go dancing, or, or, or. She adds an exception for this week's tasks.
Don't forget to go on a date with your artist sometime this week—as a heads-up, tomorrow's task is to plan a whole day's worth of artist date—and do your morning pages every day!