One suggestion Julia Cameron offered in The Artist’s Way which I made a part of my life was the Morning Pages. I take an ordinary notebook and write 3-4 pages by hand of whatever comes to mind. It can be as ordinary as “Cinnamon just walked to her food dish” or as surreal as “He waves his hands only to have antlers come shooting out of the earth, blooming flowers.” (Rewrites of this have made their way into both original stories and fanfiction). It’s a place where I can express anything that’s been bothering me, including how I’m not making any progress in a particular project, all my excuses for not getting anywhere in that project, just what I think of all those excuses, and what I’d hoped that project would be. I can write down the lyrics of a song I can’t get out of my head, what those lyrics are making me think of, or all the images coming to me from an instrumental piece of music on replay in my imagination.
I can put down anything I want on the page. There’s tremendous freedom in this. I can imagine whatever story or story image I’m struggling with, convey it in whatever words I wish. I can turn the pages into poetry, being as inane or flowery as I desire. I’ve unearthed more than a few of these ideas, rewrote them, turned them into actual story fragments or poems. My Morning Pages have gotten me going when nothing else have. I’ve brainstormed most of my ideas for these Sources of Inspiration articles within the pages.
I’ve often wondered if other people might not benefit from this freedom, taking a moment to write whatever comes to mind. There are people who’ve gotten as addicted to Morning Pages as I have, but there are 2 conditions which can be very difficult to work around.
The biggest is time. We’ve all got a limited amount of time. Not everyone can do Morning Pages in the morning. Not everyone is comfortable with the title of Morning Pages. Julia Cameron and others have recommended the morning, I myself prefer the morning, but there have been afternoons or nights when I’ve written them. Like I said, I’m addicted to this particular writing activity. I’d rather do them at night than not at all.
A second condition is not everyone can write by hand. I usually do this exercise by hand, but what if I were to type the words instead as they come to mind? What would happen? After all I type much faster than I handwrite.
It’s something to think about, especially when circumstances won’t allow me to use a notebook. As I said, I’d rather adapt this exercise than not do it at all.
What about you, dear reader? Do you ever just write whatever comes to mind to see what happens? Have you gotten any ideas from doing this you’ve harvested as project ideas for later?