Are you feeling under the weather creatively? And looking for a simple remedy? Then try morning pages.
In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends three A4 pages of longhand writing, first thing every day. It’s as simple as that and it works – for artists, photographers, writers – indeed for anyone who wants to live a more creative life.
Do I practise what I preach? Yes I do, although I admit that I’ve lapsed more than once. Having first tried in 2011, I wasn’t fully converted until 2014. Why not? Three sides of longhand writing take me more than half an hour to complete. And with a long journey to work, I couldn’t always face getting up early to write. So although it’s a simple practice, you need some discipline.
Why write first thing in the morning, instead of later – for example in the evening? To dodge the inner critic who loves to sabotage our creative dreams. I’m sure you know who I mean – that sensible, grown up voice inside, who urges us to be practical and realistic. If you write before you’re fully awake, there’s a better chance of keeping him (or her) quiet.
And why write longhand, instead of using a laptop or electronic tablet? Because pen and paper work best. With a laptop or tablet, it’s more tempting to edit – and the whole idea is to write as quickly and spontaneously as possible.
What should you write about? Anything and everything – from last night’s argument on the bus to the pleasures of good cheese and wine. Get it all down as fast as you can. And if you don’t want anyone else to read your morning pages, throw them away. It’s the process that matters, not the product. Remember – you’re trying to unblock, not come up with three sides of elegant prose.
If you miss a morning, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just start again the next day.
After more than a year of practice, I warmly recommend morning pages. Creatively, I’m getting more done than I can ever remember. Give it a try and let me know how you get on.