Writing Exercise: The Morning Pages

*Note: I learned this from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book was recommended by my poetry teacher Sir Ypil.

Everyday do three pages of freewriting. Freewriting means you can write anything you want. Don’t think about grammar. Don’t think about anything. If you begin to worry if what you’re saying is interesting or not, relevant or not, publishable or not, stop. Stop worrying and just write.

You are not allowed to revise. You just have to keep on writing up until you reach the end of the three pages. If you get stuck, and you don’t know what to write, then write, “Keep on writing.” Write this phrase, or a variation of this phrase over and over again until an idea pops into your head.

I assure you, more often than not, you’ll be surprised that you’ll be able to think of something.

Julia Cameron advises that you do this the minute you wake up. When I’m busy though, I do my morning pages later in the day. I usually use an intermediate pad paper or any paper that is of the same size.

Benefits:

1. You will be released from your inner critic.

Practicing the flow of first thoughts will train you to express yourself more freely. Set aside the editor in you for the revision phase of your writing. If you welcome your inner critic too early in the game, this will hinder you from writing in the first place.

Learning how to discipline your mind to focus on expressing yourself rather than meeting the standards of your inner critic will help you become a more productive writer.

2. You will clear out the muck of thoughts that have accumulated in your mind.

Our bodies need cleansing once in a while, and that is why many go through detoxifying diets. The needs of the mind are similar. In a day, your mind can be cluttered with ideas, worries, sense impressions, etc.

The morning pages act like Dumbledore’s pensieve where you can relax your mind, take the disarray of thoughts out of your body, and clear out some space for new thoughts to come in.

3. The morning pages act as a warm up for the actual writing.

Exercising must be preceded by a warm up routine, which will prepare the body for more rigorous activity. This should also be applied to writing activities.

In order to write the mind will need to switch from the passive accumulation of sense impressions, to the high gear of extracting memory, collating ideas, making connections, imagining lives, and mapping out entire worlds.Writing your morning pages will ease your mind into the rigor of the writing process.

4. It will get you into the discipline of writing.

Practice makes perfect, and writing everyday will help you become a better writer. Agonizing before writing will also happen less because writing regularly will get you into the writing rhythm.

5. Writing with full freedom can lead to great ideas.

Do not underestimate the purity and honesty of first thoughts. To be original you have to write something that hasn’t been said before. Inhibitions are obstacles to originality.

Every individual begins her life as a child who isn’t afraid to call out a naked emperor. As we grow older, we become trained to withhold truth or even lie just so we can please others. Revive the honest child within you by learning the art of free writing.

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