I’ve been doing a lot of exploratory writing recently. In March, I started a daily writing practice akin to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. Writing down my daily thoughts with her concept in mind has been vital to my self-improvement.
Morning Pages Are Fabulous
The concept of “Morning Pages” is perfect. No topic is off the table, but you must abandon your inner editor and surrender grammatical control. You’re free to discuss pressing issues, like politics and racism, dramatic ones, like the latest squabble with your wife or husband, or trivial subjects, like what you had for breakfast this morning. Pour out those thoughts and feelings and do it with freedom! Who’s going to read it anyway? It’s against the rules to share.
I journaled as a girl, but my entries were more like, “this is what happened to me today,” or “so and so is a big jerk face.” You’re allowed this with morning pages, but you’re also encouraged to dig deeper. The point is to explore the self and bring your inner fears and anxieties to light.
Positive thoughts are allowed, of course, but let’s get real. We don’t tend to dwell on the positive things, do we? Our brains are hardwired to seek negative data. It’s science, and it’s known as Negative Bias. You can read about it in this article on the Psychology Today website: Our Brain’s Negative Bias.
As a perfectionist, the thought of abandoning proper grammar and structure, even temporarily, gives me anxiety. “Shitty first drafts” make my eyes twitch. But if I don’t overcome this mindset, I’ll never move forward with my creative writing.
Don’t Break The Chain!
When I started, my immediate goal was to form a daily writing habit. I wanted to start a chain and not break it, as Jerry Seinfeld once coined. I’m happy to report I’ve only missed one day since I started the practice on March 23rd (June 20th! ☹). I’m still kicking myself in the ass about that day! Missing it prompted me to undertake the Artist’s Way challenge, though, so maybe it will be a good thing.
Over time, I’ve found it rather freeing to embrace my errors. Besides, it’s much more productive…and fun to fight your infernal demons. It’s like you’re Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) or that guy from Fruit Ninja.
In all seriousness, I feel like I’m one of the lucky few who has been able to consider this pandemic a blessing. I’ve had plenty of time to work through my issues, writing and otherwise, and plenty of time to figure out my next moves in my career and life.
We All Have Our Methods
I must admit that I haven’t adhered to the morning pages exactly as Cameron suggests in The Artist’s Way. What can I say, I’m a rebel. For one, I’m writing my pages on my laptop instead of handwriting them. I also haven’t fully complied with the “morning” part of the practice. I sometimes write my pages throughout the day or right before bed. Additionally, I’ve had days where I only managed 450 words and others where I dumped 2,500 words onto the page.
Ultimately, it’s more important to evaluate how a process works for you. Isn’t that the point? As long as I do the work, the A to B of a process is less critical. I have stronger stick-to-itiveness when I find my own way.
Through “Morning Pages,” I have noticed things about myself, other people, and the world. I have learned about the things I think and feel and avoid and love and loath, and want to change or embrace. Observations like these can only make me a better writer. So all hail the morning, and sometimes evening, pages!
My Artist’s Way Challenge begins this week! Pick up a copy of the book if you want to follow along over the next 13 weeks! I would love the company 🙂