Four years ago, I completed an online memoir writing course where my coach urged us to drop writing prompts and exercises like morning pages. Instead, we should focus on intentional (purposeful) writing each time we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
At about the same time, I learned what morning pages were (random, uncensored writing done in one short burst of two to three pages). I even dabbled in it for a bit, though that pittled out after a while (writers, after all, are notorious procrastinators!).
This week I decided that it might be time to resurrect this practice in defiance of my coach.
#1 There’s a storm ahead!
Unless you’re a best-selling writer like Stephen King or J K Rowling, chances are you’re unlikely to make a living writing full-time. Most writers need to work a different full-time job or take on several gigs to pay the bills. And squeeze in whatever time in between to write.
I’m no different.
Right now, my gigs come in fixed three-monthly cycles of the year, followed by a break of one or two months.
When the gigs begin (like those starting next week), I often find myself busy and unable to sit down at leisure to write. My mind swirls with what’s next on the job and how to juggle various deadlines. It can often feel like a perfect storm’s about to descend, and the last thing I have is the luxury to sit and ruminate what to write.
Yet my mind’s always in constant flux as ideas and thoughts battle for attention. This seems to be especially the case when I wake up in the morning. It’s as if my sub-conscience goes into overdrive in my sleep and I wake up with a full tank of gas just waiting to ignite!
The result? I spend the rest of the day in a whirl while gigs I undertake ‘input stuff’ into my every waking moment like a movie streaming service.
Not exactly the clear head a writer needs!
I think the better way out for me now — if I wish to keep my intentional writing going — is to use morning pages to brain dump and clear the mind before I plunge into the day.
#2 Gems in the dump
The second reason to resume morning pages for me arises from the one I just mentioned.
Since morning pages are meant for my eyes only, I can write anything and everything without the need to self-censor. These pages are like a stream of consciousness being poured out. A dam unleashing flood water. A garden hose turned full-on.
When that happens, I’m bound at some point to write down something that might later prove to be a diamond in the rough or a gem that’s going to inform a published piece of writing.
It’s happened before. And led to several blog posts in the last few years that I still look back on now with astonishment and gratitude.
And going back to my earlier point, with so much about to come my way from next week, this is probably a better way for me to create on the fly. Better than to carve out what little time I already lack to write my next inspired piece.
#3 A page a day keeps writer’s block at bay
The third and final reason is that writing, even writing morning pages, is like muscle building.
If I don’t do it regularly like gym rats, then I shouldn’t be surprised if my writing muscles atrophy over time.
But just like even the most religious of fitness fanatics will have an off day lifting weights, writing creatively doesn’t necessarily happen like clockwork daily. Not even if it’s at a time you have purposefully set aside every day to write (though that’s actually an important discipline all new writers should cultivate).
No doubt everyone’s heard of the dreaded “writer’s block”, immortalized in many movies and books. While writers shouldn’t let writer’s block cripple them for anything more than a day or two in my humble opinion, it is something that can happen to even the best of us.
Solution? Read. Research. Rattle.
Read. All writers are first and foremost readers. Better still if you read widely and deeply. And regularly. Then you’ll never lack ideas about what to write.
Research. That might sound academic and something you left behind after graduating college. But the truth is that writing often requires us to find things to support our writing. Things like facts, news, statistics, opinions, trends, archives, and even recipes if you’re writing a cookbook. Arming yourself with data and research means blasting that writer’s block sky-high!
Ahhh, that’s just my code name for — you guessed it you smart reader you — morning pages!
Because rattling off is exactly what happens when you vomit out two or three pages of uncensored nonsense when you write morning pages. No second-guessing. No hesitating. And no holding back.
Just write, write and write.
Okay. That’s it.
Here’s hoping these three reasons for morning pages will keep me in check as I write, write, write!