Yesterday my teenage daughter led the writing group we attend. Her message was about the importance of writing every day. As writers, it is necessary to create that space for ideas and words to flow by carving out time each day and being committed to putting something down. Even if it is clunky, trite, hackneyed, or just gibberish, you have to get it out of your head or it is just going to stay in there and get in the way of the good stuff.
Make it non-negotiable.
As I was thinking about Mackenzie’s charge to her fellow writers, I realized that this daily commitment to writing can be beneficial even if you don’t consider yourself a writer. Especially if you are a miner for truth – a fellow journeyman on the way to wholeness and healing – a daily practice of writing will do the same for you that it does for the seasoned writer. It allows you to perform a “brain dump”, if you will, to get out the stuff that is literally “on your mind”. You get to do it in a safe, private way that doesn’t offend anyone or cause relationship problems.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls this head clearing activity your “morning pages.” It is also called free-writing or stream of consciousness. You put the pen to paper and just start writing. Don’t stop until you have three pages full. As you commit to this process you will likely be surprised at some of the things that come out, especially if you’ve never had this kind of practice.
This kind of writing isn’t intended to be beautiful or well organized. It’s just a “line out” to get everything moving. And, if you’re not a writer, it’s still a great way to clear your mind and get ready for the day. Yes, you should do it in the morning. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to scribble out three pages.
If you have trouble sitting still or paying attention like I do, try some background music like they offer at Focus@Will. Make sure there are no distractions – this is another reason it’s a good idea to do this in the morning. Get up 30 minutes early, make yourself some coffee, and enjoy the quiet.
Here’s a beautiful post about the benefits of Morning Pages from Chatting at the Sky.