Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Action!: Morning Pages

In an earlier post, I mentioned a variety of writing I do, and thought about sharing excerpts. (See:  Action!: Writing and more writing.) I'll start with Morning Pages, because, well, that's how I start my days.

I learned about Morning Pages when I read The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. That book was a balm to my writer's soul, and if I ever meet Julia, I will hug the stuffings out of her.

The Artist's Way is another favorite book of Julia's. Here's what she writes about Morning Pages:

"In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it. I ask you to do this by an apparently pointless process I call the morning pages. You will do the pages daily...

"What are morning pages? Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consiousness... They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions.

"There is no wrong way to do morning pages. ...Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind."

She insists that even if a person can't think of anything to write, then simply write that sentence, "I can't think of anything to write." over and over until the three pages are filled. Write whatever pours off the top of your head, and don't read your Morning Pages for at least 8 weeks.

Here are two excerpts from my Morning Pages, Volume One.

April 12, 2005
I see a lipstick case that is off by itself. The cat probably batted it away from the pile it once sat near. It's a pile of items I pulled out of my briefcase when I was preparing for a trip.

I have lots of lipstick. A majority was free from Clinique... part of my bonus gifts. My sister uses lipstick as a "pick-me-up" -- don't feel well? Put on some lipstick. Down in the dumps? Put on some lipstick. No time for make-up? Apply lipstick and people will think you have your whole face done. Magic. Magic in a tube.

I wonder who gets the privilege of naming the lipstick. "Pink Beach" "A Different Grape" "Guava Stain" are some of my colors.

(Hmm...Maybe I could research that.)

I wonder how I would do at naming the lipstick shades, but I don't think I would be as creative. "Pale Pink" "Bright Pink" "Red." Nope. I don't think my ideas would be on the cutting edge. I would have to train my mind to think outside the box.

Do people just "land" in those jobs? Or is there a young girl somewhere, coloring in her Barbie coloring book, thinking, "When I grow up I want to be a lipstick namer person!"

April 22, 2005
The last few days I have been carrying a pocket full of notes. One list had reminders of things I wanted to tell Leanna next time we spoke. Another list had items I need to look for when I am out and about. There's even a few reminders of situations to ponder or pray about. My mind won't hold it all but my pocket will.

Fast forward to Morning Pages, Volume Three. At this point I had graduated with my degree in film, took a couple months to get caught up on things, and set a date to embark on my career. Here's what I wrote:

Friday, February 25, 2011
Last week someone asked me a question about where I work or what kind of work I do or something. I can't remember the question, I just remember my response: "I'm a writer. I work at home." It felt so empowering to say it out loud. I am a writer. 

Writing is one of the few careers that others have a hard time accepting as a career unless the person is "published." It's as though you are not a "real" writer unless published... if you are not writing published works, then it must be a hobby. For that reason I used to feel hesitant to call myself a writer. I would say, "I like to write" or "I enjoy writing" even though in reality I am a published author! I treated it more like a hobby or interest -- I felt like I had to be validated or something because others seemed to expect validation. The fact that I really was a published author seemed irrelevant because it was in 1983 so surely that supposed validation was expired.

Deep breath. Ready or not here I come. I am a writer and starting on Monday I will be a working writer... a working, unpaid, writer.  

(Unpaid for now.)

My Morning Pages are often dribble, and sometimes (especially in the earlier volumes) there are large gaps between entries, but they are a valuable tool. Most mornings I awake eager to write my pages... eager to drain my brain. 

I highly recommend this type of writing, even to non-writers.

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