Good morning Sunshine! Today we talk about my version of Morning Pages. I first heard this term about a year ago from writer friend, Pam Vaughan. Morning Pages is the brainchild of Julia Cameron from her seminal book THE ARTIST'S WAY. By ridding the mind of the mundane, the everyday practice on paper can help the writer stop thought loops from interfering with what is really important. Morning Pages (MP) can clear clutter from the mind and give us a fresh slate with which to begin our true work for the day.
Julia's advice is to write three longhand pages uncensored as a daily practice. It is a goal of mine that I dip in and out of every few months. My discipline is not yet a habit, but for this go-round I am in a "pinky swear" with Pam to write MPs. We check in weekly and motivate each other. No admonishments because writers are very good at piling on the blame.
My version of MPs doesn't involve the first thing that pops into my head and the time suggestion has morphed from morning to afternoon on occasion, too. I do find a peace in my yellow legal pads waiting for me to start the day and the sound of a smooth pen gliding across the surface, a writer ice skating with words that flow.
I don't just get out the mental detritus the has built up overnight, but, rather freely write on ideas that I've been massaging in my brain. I want to capture that first set of ideas and "can" the freshness of the moment I first write them down. I don't edit or revise, I just spill ink on a particular topic.Through writing I discover ideas and sometimes I like the shape they take and sometimes I don't. But, that's OK. Lately my ideas center around my parents and family times when I was young: listening to baseball games on a radio with my dad, a special weekend in Shaker Village with my mother, what the library felt like to me as child. I consider these "pre-writings" of stories that may bear fruit, but for that morning, it's enough to get them on paper.
Candy's Crazy Pages
|Candace Fleming (3rd from left) and several GROGers at WOW Retreat 2015|
Candace Fleming's insightful morning session on the first day of Kristen Fulton's WOW Retreat 2015, gave my hybrid practice of MPs some validation. Candace bravely shared her "messy writing," her longhand pages on wide-lined paper and a Bic pen. This is her discovery process, random thoughts, her "crazy pages," as she calls them. In Candy's crazy pages, she
writes about her story,
writes around her story,
writes about not writing it.
She talks to herself on paper to discover the heart of the story.
This felt so organic and freeing for me, personally. I bet most, if not all, the conference attendees felt lighter and happier knowing that we were being given permission by Candace Fleming to mess around with our work.
Earlier this year, one of my favorite manuscript's defied me, and I couldn't begin it. I desperately wanted to write this picture book biography. Why was it being so stubborn? One critique partner suggested I write a letter to my main character. Another suggested I write diary entries in her first person voice. Finally, a critique partner suggested that I write about why I could not begin the story.
I wrote six-some pages for two or three days. I purged the whys out of me in cathartic MPs sessions and found the heart of my story. I also found what drew me to my main character and how we were similar but different. Now, that manuscript is on submission because I overcame my writing block.
I am a firm believer in creating your own version of Morning Pages, Crazy Pages, Afternoon Pages, whatever you choose to name the practice. Free yourself up, play, or purge on paper, so you can get to your true purpose and motivation. Good morning, sunshine, your words say "hello".