I went surfing yesterday for blogs tagged with “writing”. I came across quite a few to add to my subscription list.
This is good because it broadens the range of writing knowledge. I think it’s also good for any readers of this blog because, at some time or another, at least one of the posts I read from each of these other blogs will end up in my Friday wrap-up and maybe I’ll introduce someone to someone else entertaining or educational or inspirational or funny.
Promotion of others…a key ingredient in establishing a successful social media platform. Check.
Anyway, none of that is really the point of this post. The point is that I discovered a creative writing exercise called “Morning Pages” (new to me…apparently it’s been around for quite a while).
I came across the reference on Pam Parker’s blog, Finding Meaning in Words, under a post entitled “Morning Pages, Not Mourning Pages“. The concept was created by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way (a book I have not read, however, I discovered I could download a free PDF of the first chapter, so, yea!! If you click on The Artist’s Way link, you too can download the chapter.).
The Cliff Notes ® version is:
Grab a notebook or a pad of paper and a pen
Write three full pages of whatever comes to mind.
It can be stream-of-consciousness or brain dump or whatever. But it has to be three full pages. And it has to be long-hand. And you can’t go back and read what you wrote for several weeks. These steps are non-negotiable.
The purpose is to train the right brain and open up the creative center. According to that first chapter, daily practice of writing morning pages will serve as “the primary tool for creative recovery” and help to quiet our inner critics. Once some time has passed and we can read what we’ve written, we may discover plot or scene ideas or who knows what.
I decided to try this because I’m a glutton for punishment.
Disclaimer — I am NOT a morning person. I can barely speak to people until I’ve been up a couple of hours.
My alarm clock went off at the ungodly hour of 5:00 AM (usually it’s 6:00 AM, which is bad enough all by itself). I hit snooze. I hit snooze again. I dragged myself up enough to turn on the bedside lamp. I reached across the nightstand and grabbed the notebook and pen I’d set out the night before. I schooched up the pillow until I was sort of sitting. And I wrote, to my own surprise, rather rapidly, until my three pages were complete.
I have no idea what I wrote. I’m not even sure I can read my own writing. Apparently, that’s not something I’m supposed to worry about, which is a good thing. All I can remember from the experience is wondering how in the heck a person was supposed to do this when her eyes aren’t even completely open. Literally.
It would have been a whole lot simpler if I’d had a cup of coffee steaming beside me. The distractions would have been minimized if I’d gotten out of bed long enough to take care of those things we all need to take care of immediately upon waking. Actually, now that I think about it, that last one is probably why I wrote so rapidly.
It would have been nice to do this exercise if I had leisure time in the morning to sit on my balcony and watch the sun rise. That’s not a luxury I can afford unless the calendar says it’s Saturday or Sunday. Frankly, from Monday to Friday, I’m lucky I get ready for the day job in the time I allow myself after hitting snooze a gazillion times.
Since I’m such a masochist, I’ll try this again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. My dominant left brain has a tendency to take over and try to create linear story lines, minimal arc. Cultivating my right brain is sure to improve the depth and breadth of my characters and my plot.
But tomorrow, I’m incorporating that cup of coffee.
Do you write “morning pages”?
Has it improved your writing?