Julia Cameron is probably most well remembered among creative people for her introduction of Morning Pages. This is a daily exercise in journaling–or brain dumping, really. I’ve done Morning Pages on and off for the last several years, and it’s something I highly recommend to other creative people of any sort–wordsmithing and far beyond.
So what do you write in morning pages? Anything. Lists, rambling, rants, whatever is going through your mind. The goal is to get out the junk and get your creative juices going in about 3 handwritten pages (or, in the online incarnation, 750 words). In recent months, my practice of writing morning pages got me through a lot of jumbled thoughts regarding my day job, whether or not I wanted to move, and how I wanted to prioritize my life. I also used it to get out my story bits that were running through my head, until I ran out for a particular story (and then I knew whether or not I had full stories going around my head, or just bits).
The hardest part about morning pages for me was being candid and honest to myself and not worrying about whether or not anyone else was going to read the blandest, ugliest, or most confused of my thoughts. This in itself is a good practice, because in writing we can’t hit our readers the hardest if we can’t be honest with ourselves about the story. (And, of course, the importance of being honest with ourselves–many of us lie to ourselves more than anyone else.)
Most days, my morning pages took about 15 minutes. Sometimes more, rarely less. I believe all of us have time for this, or should make time for it. That said, (speaking of honesty) I fall off of doing mine for large chunks of time. It’s not about the 15 minutes… well, really, I don’t know why I’m not doing it. I think because of the concept of them being morning pages, I get busy in the morning and then forget until the evening. And they are morning pages, right?
Still, if it’s a little thing that’s getting me hung up, then maybe I should just call it journaling, and say that I try to journal regularly. Whatever it is you do, I recommend spending some time with your daily thoughts and recording them–brilliant or bland–in a private forum for which you are the only audience. Many people blog publicly to do this, but I don’t feel it’s the same–blogging is a public forum with an audience that is not you. Try going back to private diaries for a while–online or offline; morning or night–and see what happens.
Do you journal? Do you feel it’s critical to your creativity?