For the past 5-6 years, I’ve been running a web site / media organization called Forward Kentucky. I did some of the writing, but also had others who contributed content. And, I aggregated some content from other sources (with permission).
Over time, I did less and less of the actual writing, and more and more of everything else: editing, bookkeeping, social media management, web site maintenance, mail list maintenance, newsletter creation. In fact, most of my actual writing time was producing a morning newsletter we sent out.
About six weeks ago, I decided I had done a full-court press on that site long enough. We were finally breaking even, but even so, I realized we were never going to have enough paying customers to hire staff and let me get back to writing. And, I wanted to not only write about politics, but also about other things, including the focus areas of this site.
At first, there was a sense of release and relief. I did not HAVE to get up every morning in time to get the newsletter done and sent. I didn’t have to worry so much about traffic numbers, and finding more content. I thought, “Great! Now I can do that other writing I’ve been wanting to do.”
And then – nada. I found myself avoiding writing. I had a good excuse: it was spring time, and my wife and I had much, much yard work to do. But even so, when I actually had time to write, I didn’t.
Finally, I admitted to myself: the well was dry. I wasn’t excited about writing, and I didn’t really think I had much to say.
Fortunately, I knew the tool to use: Julia Cameron’s morning pages.
For those who don’t know, in her book The Artist’s Way, Cameron positions “morning pages” — pages you write first thing in the day, then either throw away or store, but don’t publish — as a critical ingredient in being a writer, or any sort of creative. There are all sorts of reasons for why she thinks they are so important, but the bottom line is that the discipline of doing MP will keep the pump primed.
When I first started trying to “be a writer,” I read Cameron’s book. It was, truly, a life-changing book for me. I started doing morning pages, and I discovered the huge difference they made in my creative work.
So, after wallowing in my critical self for some weeks, I got out a fresh college-ruled notebook and sat down with a pen and a cup of coffee, and started a new set of morning pages. Just as before, I had no idea what I was going to say; I just trusted the process.
And once again, morning pages came through. They started the pump again, and the ideas started flowing. I was no longer a “publisher” or an “editor”; once again, I was a writer.
Cameron talks about “creative recovery.” Just like any recovery program, it only works if you work it. And for me, doing morning pages is critical to being a writer.
Thank you, Julia Cameron.