The Artist’s Way: Morning Pages

Whenever I get stuck in my writing, it’s time to get back to basics. For me, that’s The Artist’s Way. If you’re having trouble – I highly recommend Julia Cameron’s book. But you don’t have to buy the book to get started and get those creative juices flowing. If you want to be a writer (or an artist or an astronaut or a wallaby wrangler . . . fill in your own blank), no one’s going to do it for you. Get off your butt and do it yourself. 

Morning Pages are the most basic component of working through The Artist’s Way. You need to get a journal. Any journal will work. I get mine from Wal-Mart for $3.97. Get whatever works for you – a spiral notebook, a pretty journal, or just loose notebook pages. But no wimping out – no tiny little journals. I want some real writing to happen here! It is best to do your Morning Pages in the morning. It’s up to you just how early. When I first did AW, I kept the journal beside my bed and literally wrote 3 pages of brain dump before I even got out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, I had to get up and pee first. But if I could wait, I did. TMI, I know – but that is the answer to a question I’ve been asked more than once! The most important thing is to do this in a place that is yours – a quiet, out of the way place where your kids/husband/dog/cat won’t bother you. This is not high quality writing – it is just stream of consciousness writing. Brain dump. Write whatever comes to mind. Julia Cameron says these have to be written in longhand, which is certainly preferable. But if you can’t hand write three pages, type them. Don’t complain to me (or Julia, or whoever) about it.

Just do it.

However it works for you – do it.

Three pages every morning. Write whatever comes to mind. The idea is to get all the gunk out of your head. At first, your pages will probably read like a daily to-do list. Your dreams may appear on the page, and you may find yourself remembering more of your dreams. This happened so frequently to me, I decided to get a book on dream deciphering! Eventually, you will begin to register answers to questions that you’ve been pondering. Write down your questions, and let your muse work. The way I think of it, my muse (whose name is Wendie) sits on my shoulder and whispers the answers in my ear. Sometimes I will literally write on the page something like, “Wendie, I just don’t know what should happen next. How will Tiff react when she finds out about Aidan’s past?” Or in my darker moments, “Wendie, if you wanted to kill your husband, how would you do it?” (By the way, DH, if you read this – this is referring to a character – not you!!) And the answer appears magically on the page. You will likely find yourself feeling like a conduit for . . . well, for your muse, or your Creator (God, whatever term you want to use). This is a good thing. It teaches you to show up at the page each day, and to write. Your fingers can make words appear on the page. This will kick start your creativity, and you will learn that you do not need to wait for inspiration in order to fill your page

One thing is very important – do NOT read your pages. Do not allow anyone else to read your pages. Once you’ve written, flip the page or stick them in a drawer. If you’re tempted to flip back, rip them out and stick them in an envelope and seal it, then date the outside & hide it under the worn out panties hiding in the bottom of your underwear drawer.

Make the experience pleasant. Personally, I fix a cup of good coffee with a decadent creamer, light a candle and use a beautiful fountain pen. Honor yourself. Don’t skimp. No matter how busy your life is, you can spare 20 minutes a day to concentrate on you. You deserve it.

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