My friend and fellow artist Joe Blodgett devised a system he calls “The 14 Golden Stations.” At the time, he was concerned with procrastination and time wasting — conditions that attack some artists. It works this way: You need a clock or a watch with an hourly chime. On the hour changes — generally from 8am to 9pm — you make a one-word note in a journal accounting for what you catch yourself doing. For yesterday mine looked like this: Walking, emailing, painting, painting, varnishing, driving, dreaming, planning, painting, painting, reading, snoozing, painting, painting. My friend Mary Smart, a confirmed Blodgettite, gave me this list from last Saturday: Loving, loving, exercising, eating, assembling, collaging, walking, reading, visiting, visiting, cooking, wrapping, dining, dancing.
What, you might ask, does this do for you? As I’ve often said — there’s a brotherhood and sisterhood out there. Mary says, “It’s a joy to pause on the hour, find the little journal, and realize that others are doing the same.” I rather like to think of the Golden Stations as an inventory of passions. A small moment of cosmic consciousness, a small buzz of reality, a small zone of accountability in an otherwise free state.
Blodgettism shows no signs of taking its place among the world’s religions. However, its value becomes clear with often disarming surprise when you have a day, as I did recently, where every entry except two could only be classified as dreaming. It’s definitely useful for accomplishment oriented self-starters who may be falling off the wagon. And when the “T” words like telephoning, TVing and talking show up regularly you may decide to make some changes.
PS: “The way to foresee and control your future is to monitor and regulate your present.” (Joe Blodgett)
Esoterica: One of the most successful self-control systems is the Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Co-founded by Bill S. and Bob W. on June 10, 1935 — their first day of permanent sobriety — AA has helped millions to kick a bad habit. The organization has over 2,000,000 current members and 30,000 chapters worldwide.
This letter was originally published as “The Golden Stations”on November 14, 2000.
Sorry- sometimes one can have a TV on while still working… I mostly have music playing- so almost every entry would have music listening (and sometimes working WITH music) along with whatever else I was doing- because I can multi-task! However- there is a dramatic gender difference between what Robert is doing and what Mary is doing. And I think that’s interesting even if no one else on the planet does. But for me to do this- I’d have to go buy a journal- which I don’t plan to do on any hour. And after working for the last 5 years straight- I did finally burn out and take most of August off… which I didn’t need to keep track of- at all…
I got into too much journaling in the 1970s and found if I did what was recommended, I’d not have time for any actual living. I have a clock that chimes the hours, but am unaware of it most of the day. However, for me just noting what I did in my Work Log, a sort of journal, in the evening or next morning, and doing my Julia Cameron Morning Pages, which I have done since 1993, and other journaling for decades before that, seems to be enough to keep me aware of what I am doing…and sometimes after a “nothing” day which I thought was completely wasted, I realise when I write my day in my Work Log, that I did a huge amount, it just wasn’t visible or palpable. Things like making title-medium-dimension-price list, or finding out about some activity, or planning, or getting supplies, or even cleaning my studio do not feel like “production” but are definitely part of life and support the productive times. Also, the morning pages can lead me to see a useful or helpful connection I had not made, or can clean the garbage merry-go-round out of my head so something else more satisfying or useful gets noticed. Anything that helps with self-awareness definitely helps, and the Golden Stations looks like another excellent one, in spite of my ‘suspicions’ or world-weariness…I might try them…later….
I was interested in your comment regarding the morning pages. I purchased the artist’s way about 6-months ago but gave up reading it after I read the morning pages section. My reason was that I simply didn’t see the value writing three pages of random “stuff” that popped in to my head, and as this was a cornerstone of the book I figured there was little value reading on!
However I’ve always had this dot of doubt that bubbles into my consciousness from time to time which reminds me of the value of taking the time to do such activities. So when I read your post today I instantly wanted to ask a ‘real’ person about their experiences of creating the pages, you clearly get value from them. What is it about creating them that works for you? How do you find they help, is it just a place to dump ‘noise’ to allow creativity to flow, or are there other benefits? In your experience does the ‘noise’ go away after you’ve acknowledged its existence? Do you think your life have been different if you’d not started creating them?
Did you actually “do” the suggestions in the book or were you just reading it? I believe that it suggests that you work through the book step by step- not just read it.
The written pages get rid of the thoughts that bounce around in all directions, allowing you to get rid of the things that don’t really matter and get to the things that do, both physically and mentally. I spent several years (with gaps between) doing the morning pages and find them immensely helpful. I go back to them periodically to get back on track and to help me to remember the things I want to do and to not get sidetracked.
The secret is to try them before passing judgement.
As we all know – reading is not “doing” and we are all guilty of just reading. It seems to make us feel as if somehow by osmosis the “book learning” will just become a part of us. A good example is that I have shelves of art reference books and it just doesn’t work that way. We have to be hands on and actually get in there and work at it.
Golden Stations–way cool! A moment of recognition, not a synopsis of moments around the be-here-now moment, simply to write a string of words poem about your days experience. Way Cool!
As interesting as it may be to others, I find the idea of journaling just one more attempt at trying to incorporate more self help into my already eclectic life. What I find far more helpful is getting quiet with yourself so you can listen to your own thoughts and ideas. As on any vacation it can takes a couple days to calm down and get in the swing of vacation mode.
Our art is a language and mine is different from everyone else. Be still, be quiet, listen and observe what is going on around you and attempt to stay in the moment. We all have so much to say if we allow ourselves to listen.
Random thoughts by Carol. ☺️
What a great idea. I have recently learned the joy of not watching TV. Most of it I found to be such a waste of time. It is over three months now! I have read a lot of books but have not done enough painting. Going to try this journal cure. Thanks.
Musician Peter Gabriel has a clock in his writing studio at Real World which he has ‘modified’. The minute hand has been removed, leaving only the hour hand to sweep around the face. The numbers about the perimeter of his clock have been ‘amended’ to read ’12-ish, 1-ish, 2-ish…etc’.
How can one word an hour be too much? Sounds like a good idea to me.
I’m with Carol Mariott, I think one could spend far too much time writing down rather than experiencing the moment,which passes rather quickly…life is short, stop and take a breath, listen and feel.
Ok now to paint!
I AGREE…………..I’M ALMOST NINETY, PARTIALLY DISABLED FROM STROKES…..BUT NEVER PROCRASTINATE GETTING TO MY EASEL AND PAINTING AT LEAST TWO HOURS PER DAY. THE LOGISTICS OF LIFE, TAKING CARE OF MY HOME, GETTING TO REQUIRED MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS, CONTACTING FORMER COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS, HARDLY LEAVES ME TIME TO PAINT, WHICH SINCE MY WIFE DIED, IS REALLY ALL I CARE ABOUT.
George, You give me inspiration! I am so happy to know what you are accomplishing at your age! I must hang on and have painting goals no matter what life brings . I always remember that Renoir had to tie his brushes on his arthritic hands to enable him to paint in his late years. I have arthritic fingers on my right hand. I think from cutting my mats for 15 years of water coloring. I will not give in to those fingers. Happy painting!
Oh, my dear Deann,
I had arthritis in both hands, took celebrix, vioxx for years, then started the Esselstyn/McDougall diet for heart problems–the healthiest diet in the world. Well, after 6 – 8 months the arthritis slowly disappeared from one finger after another! Just melted away! Also lost 80 lbs and NEVER was hungry1
Best of luck,
George, your words are pure gold to me. I’m 60, retired early in order to paint full time, and find that life is busier than ever now, leaving sometimes no time to paint at all. If you can paint at least 2 hours a day, by golly so can I. I am humbled, and infinitely encouraged, by your words.
Inspiring words George! Thank you.
Hi – what a timely art5icle! September, back to schol and back to work after lazing about and swanning about all summer, just enjoying the vitamin D.
I am doing it – cleaning up my act as I fall clean the house – my life stopped and must restart now and well.
But once under way….try this Blodget…… Set your tracker for the hourly buzzz and simply say “praise” 0r some similar word – with thought and intent.
PRAISE – implies that you are already aiming rightly and winning through a bit…….so , since you and I are already focused on the good use of time and other good goals, we gain the goal better by feeding our powers with praise or some quick easy form of postive reinforcement…….
….I guess anything from the word “PRAISE ” itself to variations in all directions, like maybe, ” GOSH I’M GOOD!”….TO “YESSSSS!!!!” or a robust ” Hot dog!!” or “GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING!”
we have borne much and stayed true to the good….. we should used the fun stuff to help now.
kissing on the hour works for relationships – or a just a h ug….it works.
All my working life , I kept daily journals ,of what happened and when ,weather, job location , that ended in 2000. although I keep a log on my sailboat , when we left the dock ,where we sailed to ,when we returned to the dock , also have guest ,comment on the trip. This week end I took a two day trip to Eastern Points Island ( near Blue Rocks -Nova Scotia, I spent the day sketching and walking about the island taking about 100 photos for future paintings, but no log book! I don’t keep track of time , when I’m in the mood to paint(Pastels) ,hours pass and I am not aware of time , I don’t plan on changing that mode ,thanks.
I find it interesting that so many of the comments relate to far more than one word every hour. That’s no more than 24 words per day if we don’t sleep – fewer than these two sentences. Most of us would probably surprise ourselves by doing this; I know I would. Great idea and I’m going to try it.
I think having a day when all but 2 of the entries were “dreaming” would be considered a damn good day.
i like your response the best. but certainly those other two entries must be painting!
Those of us who don’t have the luxury of spending the whole day painting if we wish might find this a bit like nagging – why are so many hours ‘wasted’ on something else? I’m unconvinced.
Interesting! I would never have thought about a way to track the day by recording a word every hour. I’ll give it a try. It reminds me of being thankful prior to eating a meal. Habits can be helpful to keep us goal oriented and aware of how precious time is.
I think it’s an interesting idea, but I think I’ll modify it slightly by adding a descriptive word or two. So for example at 12:00 UK local time Reading – Painterskeys ‘One Word Note’. It does not take much more effort, but I think it will be useful to me when I revisit it further down the line.
I have started doing this after getting the newsletter and have found it invaluable. I tend towards depression when I am alone and I have found the magic of pausing for a moment every hour on the hour has prevented me from tipping over into the black hole. Not the intended purpose perhaps, but for me a godsend. Thanks!
Appreciate this article. I too have done journaling for the past 30 years, stream of consciousness writing, Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, and other kinds of journaling. All these journaling methods require time to write from 15 to 30 minutes, minimum. Each of these journaling method helps me clear the cobwebs in my head, relax, regroup, and refocus. The “14 golden stations” method is appealing to me because it allows me a pause, a rest, from the busyness of the day – to check-in, to breathe, and in one word affirm my state of consciousness, my humanity. I like it and will use this system as of today. Thank You for sharing it.
This was a timely article for me and very much appreciated. I spent years journaling and the time spent doing it was well worth it. For me it was a way of affirming what I wanted out of life and letting go of negative thoughts…I get the same experience out in the garden. There is something about writing things in black and white that works for me and I intend to pick up the “habit” again, although I am also aware it was good to take a break. Hopefully everyone has something that works for them, and sometimes its good to try something new. Thanks so much for this “check~in”. I love The Painter’s Keys for this and so many other helpful insights. Anders Zorn!!!! Talk about love.