Monday, June 02, 2014

Starting the Day Off Write

Bic Cristal, Morning Page

Have you heard of morning pages? I can't recall where I first saw them mentioned, though in researching (to give credit where credit is due) I find it's an idea which was popularized via Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way," a book which I admit I have not read and on which I cannot offer an opinion.

In any case, the concept is simple: first thing in the morning, as soon as you roll out of bed, before your brain has had the chance to fully wake and get its house in order, you sit down and write three full pages. Longhand. That's right: just you and a notepad and a pen or pencil.

What do you write about? Whatever pops into your head. Write about the crazy dream you just escaped. Write about your plans or worries for the day. Write about what you're going to eat for breakfast. Write about how weird the word "morning" looks to you right now, for some reason. Write about the sound of the rain and how it reminds you of sleeping in the back bedroom at your grandmother's house that July between sixth and seventh grade, when birds created a nest under the eaves and one memorable afternoon, a fledgling flew in though the window and about gave Grandma's fat old tabby cat a heart attack.

There are no rules. Just fill those three pages.

As you'd kind of expect, much of what I write is dreadfully dull or complete nonsense. However, in giving myself the freedom to explore whatever comes to mind, I've also found the seeds of short stories or poems or blog posts, wrestled with life decisions, and sorted out tangled scenes in larger works-in-progress. It's also a good way to work on writing discipline: simply sitting down at a given time each day, knowing you have to write something, no matter how sleepy and uninspired you may feel.

In a perfect world, I think I would always start my days with morning pages, and end them with writing down my "Three Good Things." In practice, I manage stints of three or four days at a time, but have never really gotten consistent about it. And I should.

Have you ever tried morning pages? If so, how have they worked for you?


Michael Clemens said...

Morning pages == Nanowrimo for me.

I'm up and typing before I know what I'm doing up and typing, or what I'm typing about. Which makes my edits... interesting.

Bill M said...

Now if I could do that I could journal about my dreams. It is a good idea if I did not go running in the morning and do many of the things I like to do that I do not do when Mrs. is awake. Generally I get on the air and talk with fellows all over the world before I need to leave for work.

notagain said...

More power to you - I'm impressed that you can do it. That would be tough for me since I get up before 4 a.m. Getting up early enough to write three pages was the hardest part of my first NaNo, and I didn't do it any of the others. I've never been any good at journaling - I write fiction because I'm too boring to make a compelling biography.

Johnny @ Pencil Revolution said...

I have been better about doing mine lately and only slip sometimes. On those days, I often ask myself, "Why am I in a crappy mood?" Usually because I didn't dumb the negativity out of my brain over my first tureen of coffee.

I have been using gel pens in back-to-school sale comp books from last year. I feel dirty about this, but I can write faster this way. Perhaps something like a fat pencil with a soft lead might help with this (Laddie?).

The book is pretty good, though it takes more patience than morning pages do. Amazon usually has cheap used copies. :)

Little Flower Petals said...

I just checked, and my library had it in Kindle format. Should be worth at least perusing!

I get all the comments about morning toughness. I can't help thinking how nice it would be to have a job that didn't start until about ten. I'd have time to get up, do my morning pages, go for a nice walk, have a leisurely breakfast, and THEN get down to business. As it is, I typically have to choose one of the above.

MTCoalhopper said...

There are only ten or fifteen minutes of blissful near-silence in my morning routine. But, yes, before I acquiesce to the cats' demands, the paper and pen frequently call out louder to me.

This morning, in fact, I actually captured the complete thought I woke to, about Hemingway and the nature of modern journalism. It wasn't any three pages, but I captured the thought.