Julia Cameron’s best-selling book, The Artists Way, is packed with good ideas for struggling artists of all stripes, one of which is the “morning pages.”
Simply put, Cameron recommends a practice of writing three stream of consciousness pages every day. These are for you alone, not meant to have any purpose but to serve as a practice. If you do them in the morning, then, like taking a shower or brushing your teeth, you’ve done it and don’t have to worry about fitting it in later in the day.
Many writing coaches advise cultivating a practice of writing every day, and morning pages is one such recommendation, but with no expectation that you will be producing any final product from it. This pulls some of the performance anxiety stress out of the activity and makes it easier to do. In a way, Cameron’s method shares the spirit of Peter Elbow’s free writing exercises.
Many of the people I work with on writing productivity problems benefit from learning to approach writing with less self-criticism, and doing the morning pages is an opportunity to develop a new relationship with writing that is more pleasurable, more creative and less arduous.
But to get the benefits of the morning pages you have to actually do them.
Sometimes writers are so psychologically mired in their procrastination and blocks that they are initially unable to commit to and sustain a practice of a half hour of daily writing in the morning. There is too much resistance. If you plan to write the three pages, then consistently fail to put any words down, or to even sit down, you will feel grief and have mourning in your morning instead of pages.
If you are someone who thinks the morning pages would be beneficial but then never does them, there may be preliminary work you have to do first. Try baby steps. Like a morning sentence, or an afternoon paragraph or an midnight page. Three pages is better, but a lesser amount of writing is still a step in the right direction and shouldn’t be discounted.
If you are writing less than you want to and haven’t read The Artists Way, I recommend checking it out, doing the morning pages and seeing what happens.