Morning Pages Revisited — January 5, 2010

Morning Pages Revisited

Ages ago, probably back before most of you, dear readers, were reading this blog, I talked about a thing called morning pages.  The post can be found here.

Today I want to revisit this because there’s another reason for the morning pages.  They’re not just for exorcising that inner critic.  Three pages of free-writing can certainly help get the negativity out.

For me, they’ve sort of started to become a diary of sorts.  I do my best to keep them from turning that way, but the events of the day before are usually what’s on my mind in the morning.

That and all the stuff I have to get done on any given day.

They’ve also become a sounding-board for my WiP.  If I’m really struggling through a passage in Oracles Promise I find that my morning pages get filled with questions and musings about the story.

And the morning pages can become a repository for ideas.  This morning, I woke up and opened the notebook to write my daily three pages.  The entire first page is filled with descriptions of what I could remember from the very vivid dream I had last night.

I recorded the dream because it really and honestly could become the underpinnings of a novel sometime in the future.  It would take a lot of work to get the mythology worked out and get everything sorted in such a way that it no longer resembles the madcap wanderings of my sleeping brain.  But it could work.

That’s why I write my morning pages.

Q4U: Do you do anything like morning pages ever?  Would you consider it?  Why or why not?

Exorcising the Inner Critic — August 7, 2009

Exorcising the Inner Critic

My inner critic loves to come out and play. A lot. Especially when my overactive brain starts to kick in and read far too much in other peoples’ actions, reactions, and speech. The harshest blows to my psyche from this inner critic come in relation to things that happen involving the opposite sex. It’s stupid, I know, but I can’t help it. I know I’m not the only one who deals with her inner critic. Natalie over at Between Fact and Fiction posted about it today as she’s gone back into writing mode after revising for a good while.

I could label my inner critic a “he,” but I’ve never known a guy as catty, cynical, snide, or debasing as my inner critic. But I’ve known plenty of girls that were that way. So it may be a bit cliche, but my inner critic is a she.

We have to exorcise our inner critic, at least in the early stages of writing. We have to learn to recognize the critic’s destructive comments from the constructive ones.

How?

I took a class in graduate school called “Meditation and Writing.” Or something like that. (Sorry, Michael.) It was a one-week course (easiest 3 credits I’ve ever earned), five days for 8 hours or so. We spent the morning doing free-writing exercises, meditating, and discussing the textbook for the course. (I know, right? A textbook for a 1-week class? We didn’t read the whole thing.) This book is titled The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve yet to go through the entire 12 week process she outlines in her book. But there’s one thing she discusses that I’ve done consistently for nearly the last 2 months.

Morning pages.

What are morning pages you ask? To quote Ms. Cameron: “Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.”

I write them first thing (usually), before I even get out of my bed.

These pages are most often filled with random ramblings about various things, sometimes I’ll put in my latest number of blog followers if it’s something that runs through my head. The general idea is to just get the negativity out onto paper first thing in the morning so that it’s not with you so much in the day.

When I first started out with the morning pages I really couldn’t see a benefit. They were still so negative and directionless. I often would put in a to-do list or a to-read list just to fill the pages faster. It does take a long time to do this. Usually about 45-50 minutes or even longer depending on how much is running through my head.

Today I realized that the pages aren’t as negative any more. In fact, now I mostly ramble about what I wrote or accomplished writing-wise, where I need to go, questions that I need to answer for myself so that my book isn’t completely directionless, etc. There are still the occasionally snarky comments from my inner critic, but I’m slowly silencing her and exorcising her presence from my writing life.