When I decided to get more serious about my writing, I went looking for books on writing to get me started. I checked various sites and lists to see what books came recommended as a “basic library for writers.” And one that seemed to be on everyone’s list was The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. (Book info here)
If you’ve read her work, you know that one thing Julia swears by is “morning pages” — three pages of hand-written work, first thing in the morning, on any topic you choose. It can be personal reflections, it can be some sort of character sketch, it can be poetry or ranting or line after line of “la la la I can’t think of anything to write la la la.”
Julia’s point is that by forcing yourself to do morning pages, first thing in your day, you prime the pump, so to speak, and get the creative juices flowing. The quality isn’t important — it’s the act of writing that breaks the log-jam of creativity and frees you up for your “real” writing later in the day.
I started doing morning pages, and lo and behold, she was right! When I was disciplined about doing my morning pages, I not only had more to say in my other writing, I also had more desire, more urge to write. It was a feedback loop that worked, and worked well.
Some of you reading this may be bloggers like me, and you may be thinking “I’m not a ‘serious’ writer like that, so I don’t need to do morning pages. That’s for the Camerons and Pressfields and Kings of the world.”
Guess what — you’re wrong.
As some of you know, I took time off from writing for most of 2014 in order to run for office. When I came back to my writing, I “reopened” two of my blogs (as noted in the About on this site). I was looking forward to writing again, or so I thought. But I found that it became a real struggle to get back into the habit of coming up with post ideas, writing the posts, and getting things out to the blogs.
Until I started doing morning pages again.
Suddenly, the old creative juices were back. I started seeing post ideas all around, and filling up my Evernote notebooks with notes tagged “post ideas.” And not only that — the urge to write was back. As long as I did at least one morning page each morning, I spent the rest of the day looking for time and place to get some writing done, even as I worked at my “day job.”
It’s a truism that has proven itself to me once again: if I do morning pages faithfully, the plumbing of my creative juices is more open and runs freer, and the desire to write is stronger and clearer.
Here’s the link to Julia’s site, so you can try it for yourself. You can watch the video as Julia explains it herself, or you can read the PDF about “basic tools.” I believe that you will find, as I did, that morning pages are an essential part of your self-care as a writer.