Thursday, March 08, 2012

Morning Pages to Start Your Day



Last year 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 way 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

20 comments:

Wendy Reid said...

This is a great idea Ann. I'm going to have to give it a try!

Alessa Hinlo said...

I used to do these a couple years ago but fell out of the habit. I keep meaning to start it up again because you're absolutely right, it really helps declutter your brain!

Debora Dennis said...

My first thought at the beginning of your post was, "OMG, some days I can barely get three pages of my WIP written, how can I waste three pages of words on nothing first thing in the morning!"
But, as I continued to read your post, the lightbulb went on. What a great idea.
I just might have to try this. :)

lovindanger said...

Hi
I love Cameron's book and have used the morning write ritual to get me going many a time. Great post
Best wishes
Jo-Ann

Savannah Chase said...

Ohh I think this sounds like a fantastic idea..I will have to try it...Great way to wake up the mind.

Suzanne said...

I have been using the morning pages religious lately but I have only been using them to clear the mind clutter. What a great idea to use them to vent, plan, or curse my WIP. I am not a plotter, so I imagine I could even do a little of that there without judgement or concern if I use it or not. Thanks for the post

Marian L said...

This is an excellent idea plus I plan on reading Carmen's book. Marian

Debra said...

I thought the same thing as Debora did when I first heard of morning pages, but I learned that they are an amazing tool. I highly recommend writing morning pages.

Ann Cory said...

Hi Wendy! I was skeptical about it, but am open-minded to trying new ways to boost my creativity. I've been hooked ever since :)

Ann Cory said...

I hope you start up again Alessa :) I think it's a very healthy habit. I have a lot of clutter in my head, lol.

Ann Cory said...

I definitely say go for it Debora - give it a shot for a week. I didn't think I'd stick with it. And I felt the same as you - more writing? But it enhanced my writing and became a creative tool that I continue to use. :)

Ann Cory said...

Thanks for stopping by Jo-Ann and I'm thrilled to hear that you've experienced the morning pages :) Yay!!!

Ann Cory said...

Exactly Savannah - a wonderful way to wake up the mind. It's very calming. I hope you give it a shot! :)

Ann Cory said...

Lol Suzanne - oh yes, vent away! I learned some key points about my male character by writing out what I liked and disliked about him. Sometimes I write about things and places I want to research for a story. It's a useful creative tool and I'm thrilled that you do the morning pages!

Ann Cory said...

Yay! Great to hear Marian :) While I didn't find everything in The Artist's Way helpful to me - I continue to do the morning pages, and I take myself on artist dates.

Ann Cory said...

Yay Debra! Keep at them because they're something special. Thanks so much for stopping by!!

Liv said...

I gotta think that getting three pages down would be a more productive way to start the day than staring at the email in-box. Great idea...

Sloane Taylor said...

Excellent idea, Ann. I was going to wait until Monday to start, but there's no time like the present.:)

Wendy said...

I did morning pages years ago and just got back into doing them again using the Web site 750words.com. While there is something beneficial about writing by hand, I have to admit, there's something about the way 750words.com is set up and really inspires you to keep coming back to write.

Lissa Clouser said...

I've heard a lot of good things about morning pages and The Artist's Way in general. I may need to pick up a copy for myself and get started on some new habits!