Monday, May 09, 2011

Morning Pages

Eleven weeks ago I started doing what are called "morning pages" from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Morning pages are when you write three pages every morning about the first things that come to mind. Whatever they are. Even when you don't think you're awake enough to form a thought. You don't have to worry about punctuation, spelling, or whether it makes sense or not. That isn't what the exercise is about.

The idea is to purge scattered thoughts and allow more headspace to focus and be creative. Sort of a feng shui for mind clutter. And I am a big supporter on getting rid of clutter, I just didn't think about it in the creative sense. You get those thoughts out before you start working on your WIP so they don't creep up on you, or stifle you. It really does work.

In the first week I didn't know what to write, so it ended up being a bunch of nonsensical stuff, venting about the neighbor's dog, my grocery list, and random thoughts. The second week I wrote about my work in progress. I argued with myself on the direction I wanted to take the characters, who to kill, who to save, and how many POV's I planned to have.

I'd say by the seventh day it all clicked for me. Morning pages became a habit. I found myself in this funky zen zone and watched my word count increase each day. Ideas for a series, books in new genres, and complex plotlines emerged - and I'd been worried the well had started to run dry. Now I can't start my mornings without writing those three pages. I don't write more or less than the three pages, though there are days when I'm sorry to have to stop at three, but there's no need to go beyond that.

I also find that morning pages are a calm way for me to wake up. I keep the notebook beside my bed with a pen and cliplight. The alarm goes off, I grab my stuff, silently groan that I can skip a day - but I never do, and write. Typically during the first page I'm barely able to keep my eyelids open. By page two I've settled in and notice that I'm waking up. At the end of page three I'm refreshed, awake, alert, and ready to work on my book.

If you've never tried morning pages, I'd recommend giving it a week. Be open-minded about the process. Write three pages at the start of your day and see if you find a boost in creativity. Of course it may not be your thing. No one thing works for everyone. But give it a shot. I didn't realize how much the pages would impact my life. New and healthy habits are always a plus!

~Ann Cory


Gadget Mom said...

Ann, this sounds like a great way to start the day!

Ann Cory said...

Thank you Gadget Mom :) It took a few days to convince myself waking up even earlier to do these pages would be worth it, but then it proved itself, lol.

I appreciate you stopping by!

Jan Irving said...

I wasn't sure about this since I'm usually so focused on word count for WIPs, but sometimes I get stuck. You can't be constantly productive. This is what trips me up. I used to wake up more naturally and when I did, I often would write today's scenes in my head, but often my SO wakes me before or I wake up and do things and that time is lost. This might be a way to tap it. Thanks!

Ann Cory said...

Thanks for stopping by Jan :) It surprised me how much I've enjoyed doing the morning pages. Really it seemed like, how can I possibly add one more thing to my day? But when it's something that boosts your creativity - it's so worth it. Give it a try - it might be what you need :)