So more about the care and feeding of your writer……morning pages. They are the creation of Dorothea Brande to help her writing students learn discipline, and Julia Cameron included them in her Artist’s Way as a tool. You wake up in the morning and you write, long hand, three pages. Morning pages can be used to help you begin writing, they can be used when you’re in a stall, and they can be used to calm down fear. The idea is that you just pour whatever is inside onto the pages. Some say it drains away the negativity. (Much of morning pages is whining.) Some say ideas began to crop up now and then. Some say if you go back to the pages after a period of weeks, you can find a little gold, evidence of your talent or an idea for a story.
I once took a creativity course in which we had to do morning pages for six weeks. At some point near the end, we sat down with our pages and reread them. We had notecards on which to write anything interesting. There was a lot of drivel in mine, but also some really descriptive touches that pleased me very much and helped me later write about the death of my sister. The late Ray Bradbury used the idea of morning pages as a leaping off place. He woke with dreams still in his head and wrote the images, which became the seeds of stories. He learned to trust that not-quite awake state as a place to mine his imagination.
If you’re stalled, I can see stopping the work for a time, but doing morning pages faithfully. You’ll be writing, likely about your stall, and you may actually write past your complaints and fears back into the story you’re working on. And if you’re not disciplined, begin with morning pages. Do them every morning for six to eight weeks, then step back and see that you have been disciplined. And there will likely be a little gold to encourage you onward.
I realized just this week, Karleen, that I’ve been writing morning pages for two years on September 10th. I keep thinking I’m going to go back and read them and I never have. Not a sentence. Too much fear of what I’ll find there — pages and pages of endless whining. Nowadays I worry more about the stack of paper I’m creating and the one day when my kids grow up and get their hands on it. I’ve thought then about destroying them, but can’t bring myself to do that, either.