Write ten Forbidden Joys (from The Artist’s Way)

Writers, does writing come easy, or is it hard? Either way, I’m sure you’d prefer it to come naturally.

Today’s writing exercise comes from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a book with 12-weeks of exercises to get yourself unblocked, and write (/be creative) naturally. She calls the exercise “Forbidden Joys.”


“One of the favored tricks of block creatives,” Cameron writes, “is saying no to ourselves. It is astonishing the number of small ways we discover to be mean and miserly with ourselves. When I say this to my students, they often protest that this is not true–that they are very good to themselves. Then I ask them to do this exercise.

“List ten things you love and would love to do but are not allowed to do.”

Your list might look like this:

1. Translate Levrero (Uruguayan author).

2. Live in a house with a yard.

3. Heal from old broken relationships.

4. Self-publish best-sellers

5. Make more beautiful love.

6. Live in a clean home.

7. Gain fluency in Russian.

8. Gain fluency in French.

9. Go to work in a 3-piece suit.

10. Take my girlfriend out to the freshest sushi restaurant in New York City.

That is my list. I have it taped on the door of my bedroom. Whenever we have parties, I get asked about it, and I always invite guests to write their own forbidden pleasures. Here are a few that I have collected since finishing Julia Cameron’s book:

3. Tour — (real deal)

6. Party with Miley Cyrus.

5. Shape Shift.

4. Have a super dope Jazz rasbet. (Note: not sure what that means.)

2. Heroin.

1. Convince Evan that he can do the things on his list.


So, again, today’s exercise: write your ten forbidden joys. Post it in the comments section, and also physically somewhere you will see it everyday. Then pay attention to what happens next.

PS Question: When you sit down to write, what’s the first thing you do: think, or listen?

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