Julia Cameron was right.
In her book The Artist’s Way, Cameron recommends doing what she calls “morning pages.” This is three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing done when you first get up in the morning. You just write whatever comes into your head until you fill three pages. The point, and this is my paraphrase, is to get all the clutter out of your brain so you can your creativity can come to the surface, and you can create your art, whatever that is—writing, sculpture, painting, etc.
I started reading this book in December, and I’ve only read the introduction and the first few chapters. Honestly, I never got past the chapter that talks about morning pages. I started writing morning pages every day, although sometimes I wrote mine during nap time or at night after the kids were in bed, and it worked. I got unstuck. I started to have ideas for writing again, and I felt more creative in other areas of my life too.
Fast forward to the past week and a half. Until last night, I hadn’t written my morning pages for ten days. I started having trouble coming up with ideas for writing and dealing with some things that are going on in my life. I’ve written some good stuff in that time period, and I’ve written some things that have fallen flat. My conclusion: morning pages work. (Obviously, Julia Cameron already knew that, which is why she wrote the book, but I have to figure things out for myself sometimes!)
In my morning pages, I write about everything that’s bugging me. I vent my frustrations and rant about my victories. Often I’ll write about all the things I need to accomplish that day, especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed. Getting it all out on paper helps. I can start to think more rationally about things after I’ve written them down.
Sometimes I go back and find ideas for writing other pieces in my morning pages. Sometimes there’s nothing usable there, but the act of writing everything down clears my mind and allows me to move on to other projects.
My morning pages (or journal, if you prefer to call it that) help me process what’s going on in my life and how I feel about those events. They also help me process the emotions themselves. During the past ten days, I have learned that I process things better on paper than just working through them in my thoughts. I’ve learned something about myself.
So, I’m back to writing morning/afternoon/evening pages.
How do you clear out the clutter so you can create? Do you write “morning pages,” or do you have an entirely different process?