Since January 2018, I’ve performed a morning ritual to help me get in the proper mindspace for writing. Morning Pages is a practice made popular by Julia Cameron, who says:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
And since January 2018, I’ve done Morning Pages just about every day. Minus some vacation days and the birth of the boys, there hasn’t been any long stretch of time where I haven’t done them. A good amount of these Fifth Draft blog posts are either copied verbatim from the day’s entry or modified and added onto so they resemble something legible.
Remember. It’s three pages. Doesn’t mean they have to be three good pages.
And in doing this practice I really found my groove writing. I developed the practice of setting up the day’s tasks in my Bullet Journal, writing three pages in my Morning Pages notebook, then getting to work, I was able to progress forward in positive ways.
2018 was the year of analyzing writing projects as successes or failures and tossing them out to begin new ones. 2019 was perhaps my most successful year, with a completed manuscript that I can pitch to agents and 2 projects started that I’m bringing over into 2020.
That’s why we’re here today.
It’s a lot harder to find 15-20 minutes to sit and write out random bits in the morning.
My days technically begin at 3am, when the boys wake up for their late night feeding. Even though they’ve been sleeping longer, they now feed longer, and finish up around 3:30-3:45am. That’s when they nod off. Then I have a choice to make: Go back to sleep for another 2 REM cycles or try to stay awake and get to work before the boys awaken from their slumber, thus bringing about another 1000 years of destruction.
Getting those thoughts down helped kickstart my brain into motion. It was a habit, by every definition, for good and bad. Many days it was sit with a cup of coffee, get my 500 words out, feel invigorated by the creative rush, then mash out another 1,500 words on whatever writing project I was doing.
Then, there were days where I knew what writing project I wanted to do but couldn’t because, hey, Morning Pages weren’t done. You can’t do your 1,500 words for your story until you write 500 meaningless words to shake off the cobwebs.
It became my rocket booster and my stone in the road.
Something that was supposed to help me is now, in this phase of my life, hurting me.
So how does this all relate to the website? Well, this is where the majority of my non-book related writing will take place. Raising twins, at this point in my life, I don’t have the time to handwrite out things for 15 minutes unless I think it’s something that’s going to be published.
That’s what the Online Notebook category on here is for. That’s for all the things I would love to put in a real notebook. Songs listened to. Pictures of the day. Statuses, of where I am or what I’m doing. And now, officially, random morning thoughts that would have gone in my Morning Pages notebooks.
Fifth Draft will continue to be the category where I talk about what I’m learning about writing and becoming a published author. Expect those to be longer, more structured pieces (kind of like this one.) Break It Down is where I’ll discuss stories (books, comics, movies, etc.) and what I think of them.
We make systems to help us, to streamline what we’re doing, so we know everyday what’s happening and when. I did this in the classroom through daily schedules, organized filing cabinets, a series of websites I used to routinely find curriculum, and weekly assessments.
In writing? Well, you have the control to figure out your systems.
Jane Friedman, expert of 20 years in the publishing industry, has been hosting a guest blog series about how to develop a routine writing practice by Susan DeFreitas, who said:
Different strategies will work for different writers, and for those at different points in their development: For some, a daily word count goal is a great motivator, while others find it helpful to focus on a time-based one. The key to applying the science around Stepladders is simply to make your first step small enough to feel achievable, and, just as importantly, to celebrate the achievement of those small, short-term goals—because it’s in the process of looking back and realizing that you’ve hit your short-term goals that you’ll build that sense of self-efficacy.
Morning Pages is just a step I needed to remove. It used to be stable, usable, but now it’s wobbly and too dangerous to use.
Thanks for reading,