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Something Old, Something New

May 18, 2010

Last Wednesday morning, for no particular reason, during my morning break, I picked up a new composition book and wrote three pages of stream-of-consciousness, longhand. A wrote three more pages Thursday, Friday and yesterday. That’s right campers, last week I started writing Morning Pages.

More correctly, I started writing Morning Pages again.

For those of you unfamiliar with Morning Pages, I suggest picking up a copy of The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Cameron advocates that by writing three pages at the start of each day we not only prime the creative pump, but also clear the mind of baggage that might get in the way of creativity (if memory serves, she actually recommends 15 minutes of writing, but almost every mention seems to simplify it to 3 pages). Cameron is hardly the first person to suggest that regular, informal writing can stoke the fires of creativity—who among us didn’t write in journals at the beginning of English classes in Junior and High School?—but she did make the habit a central pillar of her inspirational book.

At several points in my life I have started and held to the Morning Pages habit. I won’t say that it’s always done wonders, but it’s certainly never had a negative influence. The odd thing for me, is that it was done on a whim, and not as a planned attempt to jump start my writing. Perhaps, with all the changes in my life over the last few months, my creative side is trying to be heard. I’m not one to argue with anything that gets me writing more often.

And it’s working. As is generally the case, what gets put into the Morning Pages journal is junk (and probably shouldn’t be reread), but it gets your mind thinking about writing. It starts making connections. It gets your unconscious mind thinking about how to write well, by getting the bad writing out of the way.

I’m going to let this play out, without trying to control it. I’m not going to try to direct what goes into my Morning Pages. The only control I will try to exert is to keep doing them.

In the upcoming weeks I’ll keep you posted as to how it’s working.

I’d be interested to know about your experience with Morning Pages.
  1. May 18, 2010 7:18 am

    The morning pages always hold a special place in my writing history. I’m surprised after my back to basic campaign last month – I didn’t take up writing them again.

    There were two things I have always liked about TMP. First is, as you say, the clutter in my head is cleared out. Secondly it creates structure in my day. In the past I’ve had to get up half an hour earlier to write them and I always loved sitting in the quiet house by myself writing. It was always a peaceful experience.

    I hope you keep up with it and the creativity just continues to flow…

  2. May 18, 2010 9:18 am

    I had forgotten about all those pages I wrote back in school before English class started. Looking back on it, Morning pages have always helped me to write better but I never knew. Thanks for the post and the memory. I just might have to try it agina.

  3. May 18, 2010 10:27 am

    I have intended to start doing Morning Pages for some time now and simply haven’t done it. I used to do it in high school all the time, along with evening pages — it gave me a good way to get the day started and a good way to wind it down. A lot of it ended up being nonsense and gibberish as I whined about not knowing what I wanted to write, but sometimes it turned into something useful. And as you said, it never was a bad influence on my day.

    Good luck with this and I hope it continues to serve you well. Hopefully I’ll be joining you in this journey soon. I just have to figure out how to make myself do it.

  4. adampb permalink
    May 18, 2010 6:03 pm

    This is an idea that I have not come across before. I possibly have, just in different guises. In teaching English I use an activity called Rapid Writing where you write for about 2 minutes. Same principle and concept. Time means that I can’t do TMP, but could do TEP instead, once the littluns are in bed. Might have to try this out.

  5. Stephanie McGee permalink
    May 18, 2010 6:08 pm

    I did morning pages faithfully for months. I started last June but then the holidays and school hit and I got so spotty. After so long, I ran out of things to say in the pages each morning and so I’ve stopped. For a while, they were helpful. But then they just got to be a burden. I don’t recommend them for long spans of time, but maybe a month or two if you’re really feeling the inner editor getting super pesky or need that kickstart.

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