In her excellent and inspiring book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron tells us that if we want to be more creative, one thing we can do is write what she calls “the morning pages.” Writing the morning pages is how we “retrieve our creativity.” Morning pages, she tells us, are “three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness … meanderings … not meant to be art. Or even writing” (pp. 9-10). Morning pages is a really good idea, even for writers like us who have books in progress or are facing a thesis or an important report due on the boss’s desk by the end of the week. Writing every morning is like priming the pump. It’s getting motor started..
Back when I taught high school English, I made my students write for ten minutes at the beginning of class every day. I’d write the topic on the board and tell them, “Get started.” At the end of ten minutes, they’d line up at my desk, papers in hand, and I’d read each little essay until I came to an error. I’d circle that first error and say, “Figure out what’s wrong, fix it, and come back up. And see if you can find your other errors so you don’t have to keep coming back up.” My students learned—the hard way—to get their thoughts down quickly, to use their grammar books, and to stop making the same mistakes all the time. At the end of the year, they could construct paragraphs that hung together. How many of us can say we can do that?
Writing every day is good for us. But we don’t have to slavishly follow Cameron and do it in the morning and we don’t have to do it in longhand. I live with two cats. There’s no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast. I don’t have time for morning pages, so I’ve changed the concept to “daily pages.” And because I can’t read my own handwriting, I do my daily pages on my computer. What I write is not art, though I can occasionally turn a daily page into a poem or part of an article (or a blog). It’s certainly not writing. But it’s good practice.
Do you want to write a book? That’s a lot of work. You’re looking at prewriting, writing, and what seems like an endless amount of rewriting. But if you’re going to enter an athletic contest, you train for it. If you’re going to write a book, you can likewise train for it by writing morning—or daily—pages, either on the topic at hand or on whatever comes to mind. Practice does not make perfect, but it at least makes for familiarity. When you write a little something every day, you’re becoming familiar with the process of writing. That’s the first step on your journey to possible publication.
To learn more about the editing services Dr. Barbara Ardinger offers, please visit her web site at www.barbaraardinger.com.