Friday, March 11, 2011

Productive Mornings for the Night Owl

A beloved professor of mine first introduced me to the concept of "Morning Pages," as conceived by Julia Cameron. The idea is simple: Each morning, fill three pages of a notebook with whatever comes to mind. The writing should be stream of conscious in flow, with no real goals or themes to constrain it. Morning pages are supposed to be private and not shared with anyone, making it free of consideration from what an "audience" might have to say. The point is to allow an uninhibited time frame for your creativity to waken and allow it to flex its muscles without the constraints of any limitations.

I've done these on and off over the years, but this morning I felt somewhat inspired to do them. Maybe it's because I feel like, for the first time, I'm really understanding the purpose behind them. It taps into the idea of the "Inner Critic," (so called by Chris Baty, creator of NaNoWriMo), or what Cameron refers to as "The Censor." It's the little voice that criticizes everything that you do. While important when completing one's homework or taxes or day job, this voice becomes a block to the creative process, since it makes us afraid to experiment. And experimenting is the food of creativity.

One of my favorite aspects of the idea is that it's supposed to be completely private. It's so easy to share everything these days. Social networks and blogs are all created with the idea of connecting to others with similar mindsets. But I mentioned in a previous post that I feel there are already plenty of blogs that contain people's strong opinions and complaints and disagreements. Why would I share mine in such a public way? I feel it does me no good to share such poor feelings and not only wastes the time of readers but also casts me in a negative light. Here, then, is a much better vehicle for such "glass half-empty" feelings, because certainly I have them as well. And these blank journal pages make a lovely dumping ground, so that when I close the covers they remain inside, rather than shadowing me through the day or leaving a stain on my internet face.

My main problem with this daily writing exercises is in its name: Mornings! I've never been a morning person. In fact, my brain is pretty much reptilian (sleepy, droopy-eyed, hissing at enemies that come near whilst clinging to branches) until 10 a.m., and even then I need that first cup of coffee or tea to feel human. My co-workers can attest: They used to leave me notes to get back to them around lunch time instead of coming to talk to me first thing in the morning. They knew I wouldn't remember a word they said if they tried.

But then I thought: Maybe that's exactly what I need. If I'm not a morning person, then I imagine my Inner Critic is likely the same. In fact, she's probably one of those arrogant CEO types who stroll in around lunch time to start bossing people around. Maybe, then, it would be good to tap into a bit of creativity in morning before the beast has a chance to stir. We'll see if this plan comes to fruition.

Find more about The Artist's Way on the author's website, which also has a great PDF outlining the exercises and tips on how to get started. It does recommend longhand, which I, too, prefer for this sort of cathartic exercise, however there are some great online places as well. 750words is a great site that helps you compose your 3 pages, with daily monitoring, reminders, charts for your progress, and fun badges to collect. You can see the journal I chose this morning in the photo, along with the frilly pen (from the Dollar Tree) and my DS, which I included because it's cute and because I bought a new charm for it.

In other news, I recently made some new cards for my sister-in-law's birthday! She really loves octopi, so I made some in that theme. The second photo was taken by her, and shows the insides of the cards.

I think we'd be in serious trouble if there really were pirate octopi on the high seas!

1 comment:

  1. [...] I posted about The Artist’s Way by Cameron. In addition to the “Morning Pages” daily [...]

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