When I’m doing morning pages (or even Sunday night pages) I sometimes have to decide where to begin. I just watch the HBO movie “Game Change” with my wife and it’s very interesting, but I don’t want to go in the direction of politics in this post. In fact, while I know you just write whatever comes out, I want to use this to improve my craft. Writing. Hopefully you see some craftsmanship here. Or will soon.
In not too many more days I’ll be done with 30 days of morning pages and I just want it to be the starting point. You can research and see that I’ve been blogging for years. But now I really want to get books published. I want to get to five hours of writing a day soon. Or relatively soon. 🙂
If you are stuck, I highly recommend the morning pages exercise and you can read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way to find out more about them as well as other exercises she urges you to do.
Recently I’ve been having more frequent memorable dreams. I’m guessing that this means something about creativity and the direction I’m taking. Perhaps is just diet, but I don’t think so. The other night I had a sci-fi dream where I was showing my wife around a prehistoric earth. It was really wild with some severe ice in places and giant bacteria-like creatures and huge alligator type animals. I do want to write some science fiction and I think that desire has led me in the direction of some dream state sci-fi.
Have you ever had a change in your dreams that you thought was because of where you wanted to go?
The more I write, the more I like it. For a long time I was stuck on writing on paper, but there is something about WordPress that works very well for me. I think we all need to take a look at what might be holding us back. Whether or not that is an attitude on our part or physical limitations. The real world can be less than helpful sometimes. By that I mean, just as we have different learning styles, some of us have aesthetic ideas that we’re more comfortable with. I actually bought a program a couple years ago that lets you speak and translates (pretty well) what you have spoken into the written word.
Just couldn’t bring myself to open it. I’m sure it seems wasteful to some, but this is all part of what I’ve mentioned about morning pages. Judging yourself can get in the way of the flow of creative ideas. Now that I’ve found that doing morning pages on WordPress really works for me, the sky’s the limit!
Or like some have said, the sky is NOT the limit. The limit is out there somewhere way beyond the sky. I know some people might just think of this as nonsense.
I’m sure there are some incredible well-disciplined writers out there who think this is just a waste of time. Maybe for them it is. Maybe they’ve got their structure and their habits and they just turn work out like a machine. A happy (or at least contented) machine.
If whatever you’re doing is working for you, great!
But just putting your head down and forging ahead hasn’t necessarily worked for everyone.
Find a routine that works for you.
The first thing to do is start writing. The next thing to do is not judge the writing. At least, not right away.
We’re not all Vermeer. Don’t know who that is? Google him.
Vermeer doesn’t have a lot of paintings like Picasso, but most people see every one of his paintings as great or a masterpiece.
Have you heard of The Girl With the Pearl Earring? That’s Vermeer.
Most of us are more like Edison in our creativity. And I don’t think we’re trained to think that being as messy as Edison is ok. That’s not what I learned in school.
What do I mean by that?
Motivational speakers talk about Edison and one the most famous things they attribute to him is this:
I didn’t fail at inventing the incandescent light. I just found 1199 ways to NOT invent it.
There are variations, but the general gist of it is that he didn’t look upon what many would JUDGE to be failures as failures. He saw them as steps to help him on the way to inventing the electric light. I’m absolutely sure he learned from his mistakes.
So, will we make mistakes in writing? Absolutely. Will some of them be published for all to see. Quite possibly.
Is it still possible that we will crank out a really good, even great book? Absolutely.
You have to believe that.
When I say that we shouldn’t judge our morning pages, I don’t mean that we shouldn’t ever judge our work at any point. It’s just at this point in the process, we want to get those ideas out there and get them flowing and expressly NOT impede the flow of ideas.
Keep going even if it’s dah, dah, dah. Remember that song? Trio. That was the band.
Judging our work comes much later.
Remember that Carpenters song?
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough, for anyone else to hear.
Just sing. Sing a song.
That’s what we have to do with our writing. That’s right. I said HAVE TO.
Allow yourself the freedom to succeed.
Judge Not, Lest Ye Miss Out. (That’s MY quote – the first one attributable to me. That’s right. Me.)
Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.
Then, keep going.
Winston Churchill – Never give up.
OK. He said it more forcefully, more eloquently. But that’s the gist of it. Never give up.
When you’ve got a lot of material together, then you can have someone take a look.
For feedback. But that’s a long way off. For now, write. Write some more. Then write some more.
If you really don’t believe it, then I suggest that you purchase or borrow The Artist’s Way.
If you still don’t “buy” it, then I suggest you attend a personal growth workshop or at least an artist’s or writer’s workshop.
But beware of too much criticism too early on in the process.
Don’t let that flow be interrupted. Don’t do it.
I remember a supervisor in insurance (of all things!) telling me that momentum is a funny thing and you don’t want to lose it. It’s sometimes difficult to get back. No. I think he said it’s almost always difficult to get momentum back.
So that’s one big reason to not stop writing. Every day. Or if you really, really think you need to take one day off a week, then ALWAYS write the other six days.
The consistency is a type of momentum. I’m writing on this first day of daylight savings time. Do I want to snuggle with my wife? Yes!
Right now I know it’s important to stay with my discipline of writing every day. Every day.
The other day I had computer problems and I thought I was going to have to write with pen and paper.
I got the computer fixed just in time.
That brings me to another point.
First, write everyday with consistency!
Second, don’t get stuck on your strategy. That’s another phrase of mine. Getting stuck on a strategy. (Although, I don’t mean that with regard to writing every day. The consistency will get you there.)
The strategy that I was stuck on the other day was using the computer to write. Yes, that’s my preferred method now. By a longshot!
But, if that method is not available…
Don’t let that keep you from do the thing you really want to do. The original goal – writing every day. Writing on paper qualifies and sometime in the afternoon in dawned on me that I could write on paper and stay consistent with writing every day. Not too long after that the computer was fixed.
Minus our taxes. But that’s another story.
I’m getting tired now and don’t remember if I even had a third point, but I’m sure we’ll get to it during a future session.
It is interesting to write when I’m tired. Not too long ago I would have just hung it up when I started to notice that my body and brain were not quite as chipper as 15 hours ago or so.
I think the freedom that this style of writing exercise affords is very beneficial here.
Maybe those of you who are writing somewhat successfully, but you’ve just been stuck for a little while could experiment with doing morning pages precisely WHEN you’re tired.
You don’t know what you might find out.
Even if it’s not the most profound stuff you’ve written, it could be fun.
I know I don’t want to stop right now. And I’m moving ahead like Edison.
By the way, Picasso wasn’t the best example earlier because some much of his work is considered great or a masterpiece, BUT he was prolific in a way that Vermeer was not.
Maybe it’s more like Beethoven. He was definitely no slouch, but did you know that one of his first public performances was badly reviewed? Yet he didn’t give up.
I learned that originally from The Partridge Family, but you can google it, too.
When I was a kid, my favorite symphony was Beethoven’s 5th. I didn’t know much about classical music, but that was pretty recognizable. Dum, Dum, Dee, DUM…Dum, Dum, Dee, DUUUM…
My writing doesn’t do the sound justice, but you can YouTube Beethoven’s 5th.
Most people, whether they know Beethoven’s music, know OF Beethoven.
I confess right now that I haven’t read Toni Morrison, but I definitely know OF her.
I don’t know about her process or how she has progressed, but my guess is she’s more like Edison than Vermeer. But, she could be like Picasso, too.
What does this mean for me and you?
Practice. Keep going. Keep doing. Don’t interrupt the flow. Don’t get stuck on a particular way of doing something. (Except the discipline of ACTUALLY writing.)
Don’t judge yourself very much and NOT early in the process. When you DO find someone to give you feedback, get feedback from more than one credible source.
Yes. You want a realistic assessment at some point. You don’t ultimately want to be in denial.
But, you CAN learn and grow and become a better writer. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. You can get better and you will if you let yourself.