Monthly Archives: June 2010

JULIE & JULIA film (Portrayals of Writers)

I just saw the film JULIE & JULIA (2009), which for me whipsawed between being exhilarating and excruciating to watch.  In the movie two women characters (Julie Powell and Julia Child) go through “an artist’s journey.”   Both of them will become published writers by the end of the film.

I don’t know how close the film actually mirrors the lives of Julie Powell and Julia Child, so I’m going to just focus on the characters as portrayed in the film.

The Julia film segments whizzed by, and I enjoyed them immensely.  However, the narcissism and whining of the Julie character got so irritating that I had to pause the film several times during Julie segments to do something else.

I ended up concluding this film provides terrific contrasting examples of how to act and how not to act as an artist.

Just for fun, here’s:

Top Five Things I Learned from Julia in JULIE & JULIA:

1)  Master your craft.  Find the absolute best teachers and classes you can.

2) Keep doing and submitting your work, even when it feels hopeless.

3) Don’t whine.  Take action.

4) Have a personal life as well as your work.  Don’t take love for granted.

5) Aim for being world-class in your work.  The worst that will happen is you won’t reach that level, but you won’t know how far you can go until you try.

Feeding the Muse by Going on Travel

I just came back from ten days of travel.  Due to the circumstances of the trip, I was unplugged from the internet for those ten days–no web surfing, no emails, no blogs.  I still had my cell phone, but only did texts or calls during a certain designated time period in the afternoon.

I was curious to see if I would notice anything different about how my mind worked, and how I would view my internet usage when I got back.    Was my usage having an impact on my creativity and ability to focus?

Very quickly, I found I didn’t miss the internet at all.  In fact it felt like a burden had been dumped off my back–I didn’t have to worry about getting back to emails, I blew off my blog, I didn’t waste time web surfing.  Instead I was out and about each day seeing places, meeting people, and reading books to relax in the evenings.

Two effects were noticeable within a few days–1) I found I could quickly plow through novels again (and so raced through Jane Austen’s EMMA and John D. MacDonald’s DRESS HER IN INDIGO), and 2) I found myself getting braincramps from all the story ideas that kept coming up due to the travel itself.

Travel can be a great way to get ideas for stories:  museums, historical places, cultural landmarks, art spots, local restaurants, national and state parks, long walks down the street, people sitting around chatting in hotels….

Keep a pen and notepad around during the trip.  Make an effort to see the places and people that make a location “different” from everywhere else.  By doing so, I’ve now got more ideas than I can deal with, even if I write non-stop for the next five years.

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Going forward, I’ll be posting on Wednesdays.  I’ll also be cutting back my email and web time, limiting it to evenings after a full day of work and writing.   So there’ll be a noticeable lag time in moderating comments.

Feeding the Muse by Doing Something Different

On the spur of the moment, I got involved with putting together for a relative a slide show of old 1940s photos that could be played on a DVD.   Had to do the project in a week’s time.

So I spent quite a few evenings scanning in photos, then editing them, then putting them together in a sequence that made sense, and then adding music that seemed fitting.   It was artistic work, playing around with visuals and music.

What I didn’t expect was getting flooded with story ideas to write.   Felt like I had “mindcramp.”

Also, I found that I came back to my writing with heightened sight and sound–i.e. able to visualize settings with vividness and new perspectives.   Somehow the work on the DVD had stimulated those parts of my brain.

So I now understand what Julia Cameron was talking about in her creativity books (like THE ARTIST’S WAY) about allowing yourself to do side projects in artistic fields that aren’t your “chosen” field.   For example, a painter doing acting and poetry to relax.   I’ll continue goofing around with iPhoto and iDVD to make stuff since I enjoyed them so much.

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After I post this, things will be quiet here for a bit.  I’m headed off on travel and will be checking in sporadically.  Next post Wed. Jun 16.