By Kath Walters
Writing is a habit – a good habit, I believe – but for too many of us, writing is a chore, and not one we take any pleasure in. When people tell me this is how they feel, I recommend a cure devised by the author of ‘The Artist’s Way’, Julia Cameron. That cure is called the ‘morning pages’.
Cameron’s book is a lovely one, designed to feed our creative juices and capacities. The morning pages are part of her recipe for reawakening our deadened sensibilities. Cameron advises us to write three pages of long-hand as soon as we wake up each morning: first thing. What about? Whatever comes into your head. If nothing comes into your head, write: ‘I can’t think what to write today’ until you can think what to write. Don’t stop. Keep flowing.
What are we to do with our morning pages? Absolutely nothing. Tear them up, store them away, put them in a box and open them in two years – whatever you like. The power is not in the reading of them, but in the writing of them.
The morning pages have many values, some logical and some mysterious. Here are some of those values as I see them.
- Flow: We learn to write without stopping
- Creativity: We cannot go backwards and destroy our words; we can only go forward and create more words.
- Insight: We discover themes, emotions and ideas we didn’t know we had.
- Release: Somewhere to whinge without having to deal with anyone’s reaction to our thoughts.
- Gratitude: In my experience, it’s hard to whinge for more than 1.5 pages.
- Momentum: Great writing is 99% momentum; the morning pages help us to build writing momentum
- Self-esteem: New positive habits makes us feel better about ourselves.
- Confidence: Anything we practice we learn to do better.
- Mastery: It’s said that we master a skill once we have practiced it for 10,000 hours. You are on your way.
- Wonder: Sometimes, the words that flow from your pen are surprising, shocking or exciting.
- Handwriting: I don’t know about you, but my once-lovely handwriting is sloppy because I never practise it. Here’s the cure.
- Change: Morning pages will change you. It’s a mysterious process, and I don’t quIte understand it, but it’s true. Try it.
If you would like to hear Julia Cameron talk about the morning pages, click here. And I heartily recommend her bestselling books: The Artist’s Way and The Artist’s Way at Work.