Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to get your thoughts on paper. You have chosen a topic for which you are burning, and still, you can’t make any progress. That can be a problem especially for beginners, but even advanced writers occasionally get to this point. For this particular problem, there are the so-called morning pages.
They are a training tool to teach your fingers to write what’s in your head. Because writing is a muscle that needs training.
I could never do anything with this exercise until … but let’s start at the beginning.
The first time I read about the morning pages almost twenty years ago.
If you want to take full advantage of your subconsciousness, by writing easily and fluently at any time when it’s active, you need to train your body first.
It’s best to get up half an hour earlier. Begin writing as soon as possible without talking to anyone and without reading the newspaper or picking up the book on your bedside table.
Write down everything that goes through your mind, what you dreamed of, if you remember it, a conversation, real or imagined, or a questioning of your conscience on any matter.
Write a morning reverie quickly and without evaluating the content. Whether what you write is excellent or even of value, does n’t matter.
You will find out later that the writing is better than expected. But your task at the moment isn’t to produce immortal literature, but merely to write something that is not entirely pointless.
Very much like the morning pages that Julia Cameron recommends in her book The Artist’s Way.
It’s a tool to train yourself, sometimes to write bad to just get something on paper, which you can then improve.
I spent a long time studying this exercise. After all, training is always a good thing.
In the morning, right after getting up, sometimes still half asleep, I wrote down everything that came to my mind. But apart from the fact that I ended up feeling very tired, I couldn’t identify any positive effect.
That’s why I gave up on it fairly soon. Writing down incoherent daydreams and snippets of ideas was boring, and I never found it to be promising.
Hence, I didn’t start a serious second attempt when I later heard of Julia Cameron’s practice approach called Morning Pages.
But then, a while ago, I started to write a diary again.
My diary. What do I mean by diary? Well, when I started, I didn’t realise that until I stumbled over the morning pages sometime later and noticed that my diary is basically the same thing. Only I had given the child a different name, and there was a decisive thought plus a few additions.
Yes, I can write about anything that is on my mind, but I also have the permission to ask a question. Sometimes these are personal issues, but often enough they are content creation problems.
Ana is supposed to walk through a strange portal in the fourth chapter.
The problem, Why does she do that? Isn’t she scared?
Probably, but maybe there is something important on the other side. If her brother is on the other side, I have to change the whole story, but if it’s an object (wink wink) that might work.
For example? The diary of her mother. Or maybe an old clock? The golden pocket watch of her grandfather! But why would that be on the other side?
Maybe a necklace that has magical powers, that might have been of her great-grandmother belongings. That’s why her mother saves it, and now the necklace is suddenly gone, and Ana sees it through the portal and has to retrieve it; otherwise, she gets into trouble.
Why is she getting in trouble? Because she had borrowed the chain, without asking, to brag at an outing, and thereby the good piece got lost.
You see, suddenly my written thoughts are not about dancing vampires or flights through endless autumn forests. No, they clear my mind of these questions and my fingers find, often enough, a solution to the problem.
It flows because I treat my morning pages as diary. They have become a super-helpful tool to bring order to the chaos in my mind.
I know that seems like a small step at first. But for me, this simple renaming and the thought process permitting to treat real problems was a revelation.
Suddenly morning pages were no longer a series of random thoughts, but a problem-solving tool of the extra class.
Do your own thing, first of all.
I usually start my day with the morning pages, which I call that again just because I like the word. Even if there are no problems or questions, I’ll just write down what I am working on anyway.
As a result, I take the pressure to produce read-worthy material and think about possible stumbling blocks and give my brain the opportunity to solve them in advance.
Also, I have started to employ morning pages at any time of the day whenever a content problem arises to which I don’t have a spontaneous answer.
Sometimes thinking takes place with a pen on paper. It just feels better. I know that my thoughts, sometimes, are too fast for the pen, then I may type.
Everything is allowed, which brings me closer to solving my problem or to answering my question.
Are you writing morning pages? Or a diary? Or is it all the same to you? And how exactly does your implementation work? What tips would you give a morning page/diary beginner?
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