Morning Pages for Worse and for Better

Several months ago, as part of a plan to write more, I decided to try my hand at writing morning pages. I quickly modified them but I’m not sure if that was for the better.

For those who don’t know, “morning pages” are the brainchild of Julia Cameron from her book The Artist’s Way. To do morning pages you’re supposed to wake up, pick up a notebook and knock out three pages of writing without putting any thought, grammar or punctuation into it. (Rather like this blog, at times, now that I think about it.) The theory is that you’re essentially performing a kind of brain dump and cleansing your mind of whatever flows from your fingers and your pen. You then are supposed to throw away the completed notebook.

I tried the pages that way for a while but then eventually felt as if I was wasting time with them.  I’d zone out, nearly fall asleep, and long for coffee. Most of my early pages were along the lines of  “I need coffee I need coffee I need coffee I need coffee sweet mother of Jesus I need coffee coffee coffee coffee my kingdom for coffee my soul for coffee your soul for coffee death to all who refuse to bring me coffee no coffee no life no coffee no God decafen, decaffinated, decaf coffee is evil and freaking hard to spell.” (Something like that.) Basically, it was all the kinds of navel gazing that kept me from writing morning pages in the first place. (In fact, it’s the same thing that kept me from writing a blog for a long time and still keeps me from writing a proper diary.)

That lasted for about a tablet and a half. Since then I’ve modified my morning pages routine. I write on A4 copy paper pads I assembled myself from scrap paper and I don’t start writing until I’ve showered and had at least one sip of coffee. My goal is two A4 pages in half an hour, although I’ve been known to take longer on weekends and days I don’t have to be into work early.

I change pens every day so I have a chance to do long term tests of different pens, nibs and inks on cheap copy paper. I also write different types of pages. There are the whiny brain dumps where I complain about life in general; the pen reviews where I describe how it feels to write with the various pens; and the focused writing.

In the latter I focus on whatever particular project I happen to be working on. I sketch characters and scenes and brainstorm ideas for different plots and different characters. If anything seems particularly useful and legible, I underline it and then go back and type into a computer file. I’ve managed to get some useful stuff that way.

If I were smart, I’d brainstorm one of these blog entries and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. But, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m not that smart.



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