This past week, I’ve explored an exercise called Morning Pages. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way explains writing three pages, each morning, in longhand, is a great way to clarify your thoughts and remove ‘cloud thinking’ Sort of like quieting the ‘monkey mind’ in Zazen meditation.
This is what I learned:
Three pages is too much. Two was a bit much for me. Writing in longhand is arduous for me. It hurts. My hand cramps. My handwriting is barely legible. The simple act of writing isn’t so simple for me, which is why I prefer to type. I forced myself to do write two pages instead. Even that felt like I was working through molasses. My monkey mind wanted to be free, and struggled the entire time.
Consider the size and type notebook. I used a composition notebook, which meant almost full 8×10 page, so a Moleskin diary provides smaller pages. Spiral notebooks provide a choice in size as well as writing on flat page.
I complained a lot. Because I didn’t enjoy the entire process, my ‘thoughts’ often centered on how I hated my handwriting, or that I had nothing much to write because my brain barely functions when I first get up.
Three pages took a block of time I could be doing something I enjoyed. While I struggled through this exercise, I wasn’t working on the number of things I wanted to get done (and would enjoy more doing).
On the other hand, I want to share my own advice on this process;
Don’t feel you have to do mornings. Select the time before you’re going to get started on writing to help clear the junk in your head. Since I write in the evenings, I’d write/type after dinner and before I started writing.
Keep a list of prompts to get you started. These can include anything from fiction prompts, to prompts that provoke insight into the inner workings of you mind.
Freewriting for 10-15 minutes instead. Freewriting does the same thing Morning Pages promises- to help with clarity. It can also jump start creativity. It focuses more on the nonsensical and unrestricted ideas in your head. In other words, freewriting is supposed to be a brain dump.
Go in with a better attitude. I fully admit I didn’t have the right mindset for it to work. Even if I started complaining/whining, switch to more pro-active thinking, and move on. Unhappy with the strain of thought? Scratch it out and start again. No one will read it.
Have you tried Morning Pages? Do you need to find clarity to sort out thoughts to write? What are your experiences in freewriting? Please comment and let me know your thoughts.