Tag Archives: Dorothea Brande

care4

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.

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Care3

Here’s more on the care and feeding of your writer…..writers empty, particularly on long projects, like novels. Or they empty as they try to balance making a living at something else along with writing. Or they empty as they don’t ever finish a writing project. Or they empty as they mean to but don’t write. Or they empty as they don’t sell or get published. They get dry and used-up feelings. They get flat. They get sad and disheartened.

The artist’s date, a concept created by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, is an excellent way to make the curious, light- hearted child of your writer remember its smile. It’s a once a week date with yourself, and yourself only, to explore play, old dreams, forgotten curiosities. It a way to fill up the well. You can begin by listing 20 things you used to do that you don’t any more. Or by playing with your alter egos: what would you be if you could have five other lives: a dancer, a baker, a musician, a priest, a father? So you take out skates and go ice skating again or you go to a cathedral and listen to evensong or you sit in a park and watch young children play. You fill, and refilling is a slow process. It’s a correction of what has probably been years of neglect.

You pay attention again to an inner self. You take tiny pieces of forgotten dreams, tiny pieces of forgotten interests, and you do only that tiny piece: walk through art galleries soaking in color; ride the city bus to a place you haven’t explored but always looked interesting from the window; buy crayons and color blank pages or chalk up the sidewalk in front of your house. Paint a room red. Forgotten or long-for hobbies, classes you’d like to take if you had time, silly things you’d do if you dared, these are the closed boxes holding interest and curiosity, two things your writer needs to feel alive.  You recharge your  most tender and creative self with artist’s dates. You show respect when it feels like no one else in the world is.

It’s a daring act to make a continuing play date with your writer. It reopens longing, regret, curiosity, risk. And worst of all, maybe fun.