Friday, August 16, 2013

Testing Morning Pages

I recently came across the tool called Morning Pages. I have been struggling with getting myself to write, and to tap into a deeper, creative potential.

What is Morning Pages

Morning Pages are a technique and tool that come from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way . These are meant to help us better connect with our creative selves. Julia describes Morning Pages as:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing,
done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages 
they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about
anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes
only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put
three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
That's all. There is no structure, plot or character arcs in putting out morning pages. This exercise is meant to free you up, and help you tap into your inner creative potential.

Does Morning Pages Really Work

Is this another gimmick? Am I just wasting my time? Shouldn't I be working on an outline for my novel? These might be some of the questions that one would ask when considering Morning Writing. I mean as the creator of Morning Pages herself says "they are for your eyes only" then what do you do with this.

I am still starting out. So I wanted to see if this has been effective for anyone.

Jennifer Blanchard described her experience saying, "The results from my two-week experiment speak for themselves: A much more positive attitude, Fewer complaints, A clearer, more focused mind, The unclogging of my entire life, which allowed my creativity to flourish." (Morning Pages: Results From My Two-Week Experiment)

Carrie Mumford says "I’ve been playing around with Morning Pages since I read The Artist’s Way late last year, and am now, quite frankly, hooked. Despite being hooked I find it hard to articulate how Morning Pages have helped me. I think Morning Pages work for me because I’m able to clear my brain out before I begin my day, and occasionally this ‘clearing’ results in a good idea or two that I can use in my writing later on." (Do You Write Morning Pages?)

No Morning Pages

On the other side. These writers report a sharp reaction that they experienced when then stopped or took a break from Morning Pages.

Jennifer Blanchard left nothing to the imagination about what she went through, explaining "I went, I’d say about two months, without writing a single Morning Page. What happened was pretty crazy. (And hopefully you don’t have to experience the same thing I did!) I had a total meltdown in my life. Everything felt wrong. Nothing I was working on felt like it was the right thing to be doing. I was sick of blogging, sick of writing, sick of thinking about writing all day… sick of it all."(Morning Pages Experiment: One Year Later)

Carrie Mumford adds " If I miss my Morning Pages, I find myself antsy and unfocused, and eventually need to take a break, sit down with my notebook, and pour all of those thoughts onto the page before I can get back to my day.(Do You Write Morning Pages?)"

Great Morning Pages Online Tool: 750 Words

Julia Cameron, the creator of Morning Pages, advocates doing Morning Pages by hand, preferably in a notebook. She says "When we write by hand, we connect to ourselves. We may get speed and distance when we type, but we get a truer connection–to ourselves and our deepest thoughts– when we actually put pen to page." (Morning Pages: why by hand?)

Nevertheless, there is a great site, 750 Words, which has harnessed technology and social networking to make Morning Pages accessible and fun.

The creator, Buster Benson, describes the impact Morning Pages have had on his creativity, saying, "I've used the exercise as a great way to think out loud without having to worry about half-formed ideas, random tangents, private stuff, and all the other things in our heads that we often filter out before ever voicing them or writing about them. It's a daily brain dump. Over time, I've found that it's also very helpful as a tool to get thoughts going that have become stuck, or to help get to the bottom of a rotten mood."

Yet, despite the elegance of his tool. It does contradict the fundamental criteria of Morning Pages. Buster explained his rationale for developing 750 words as "In the past, looking for a spare notebook was probably easier than looking for a computer. Not anymore. I don't know if my hands even work anymore with pen and paper for any task that takes longer than signing a check or credit card receipt."

This site gives you word count as you write, so you can pace yourself (like a runner doing morning exercise). He makes it fun by giving badges for regularly doing your Morning Pages. The 750 words is an approximation of what 3 handwritten pages would come to.

I have enjoyed using the site. My only gripe is that it doesn't seem to adjust for different time zones. So when I get up early  to do my morning pages, it is still synched to the night before.

Getting Rolling with Morning Pages

At this point, I am only  a few days into Morning Pages. I am going to try to incorporate this into my routine and hopefully report on the amazing impact it has on my thinking, creativity, and writing.

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