Last week I stumbled across The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron’s advice about Morning Pages. As she puts it, morning pages are three pages of free writing that one does to empty the brain before diving into writing work. It’s the practice of writing daily and putting whatever comes to mind on the page. It’s not supposed to look pretty, sound good, or win you any awards.
It’s just you, a pen, three pages in a notebook, and all the junk that comes into your mind while you’re moving your pen across the paper.
That’s it. Easy enough, right?
I decided to give them a try last week. I didn’t write in the morning every day, but I did write daily (except for yesterday, oops). I didn’t think it would be eye-opening or even all that useful in making my writing better; I was honestly just expecting it to be a good way to get into the practice of writing on a schedule, which I need to do.
However, every day that I wrote, I found my thoughts going from ramblings about the weather or what I had to do that day then somehow shifting without my really noticing. Suddenly I was writing about characters, plot, my concerns about the novel that lives only in my head, why I hadn’t started really digging in yet, what I saw as interesting scenes for the novel… you know, the stuff I haven’t been writing down.
And then, once the three pages were done and I opened a Word document to actually do some novel-writing, the stuff I was coming up with was better than what I was coming up with when I wasn’t doing morning pages! Like freakin’ magic.
This is such an easy yet obvious way to improve your writing (or whatever it is you do, if you’re an accountant or a painter or a small business owner and you need to open yourself up creatively). And all you have to commit to is three pages a day. They’re called morning pages, but I’ve been writing mine at all different times, mainly because I’m not one of those structured, disciplined writers who writes at the same time daily. It hardly matters when you write. You just have to write. Just write whatever comes into your brain. Clear the junk out of the way so you can tap into the part of your brain that just wants to create and doesn’t give a hoot about the laundry or your dentist appointment or if you’ll do enough freelance work this week to feel validated as a human being.
The best part is that while writing a lot of junk, you’ll probably come out with some real gems that you totally needed but couldn’t get at before.
So I challenge you to try morning pages for a week. Grab an old notebook and before you do any “real” writing (whether for work, a novel, whatever) do this “brain dump” writing and see what happens.
Oh, and remember: no one else will see it. Just free write your heart out for three pages, then see if your other writing seems better and comes out easier for you
Have you ever done morning pages, journaling, or some type of free writing as a way to loosen your writing muscles up and get creative juices flowing? How did it go for you if you have?