I usually mention the idea of ‘morning pages’ in writing workshops because I think a regular writing practice is a really good thing for authors and I know a lot of writers who love doing them, either on the long term or for a few weeks to help them get unstuck when they feel blocked.
I’ve personally never used ‘morning pages’ because my daily practice is my dream journal so I was interested to read ‘Morning pages may not be the artist’s way’ by Maria C McCarthy. She and several commenters suggest that ‘morning pages’ can easily turn into an outpouring of ‘negative and angry stuff’ going over and over the same concerns day after day.
Her criticism of the book that made the idea popular ‘The Artist’s Way’ is that the author, Julia Cameron, offers it as the solution for every writer. My problem with that book is that I don’t think it acknowledges the earlier bestseller, ‘Becoming a Writer’ by Dorothea Brande, which describes exactly the same practice, but that’s a separate issue.
Maria McCarthy suggests adapting the ‘morning pages’ idea by not making it totally free, but rather focusing it around a topic. Specifically, she talks about John Siddique’s idea of free writing around the ideas in Stephen R Covey’s ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People.’
I sometimes suggest using writing prompts which are self-generated for daily writing and I think this also circumvents the grinding wheels of our discontents, shifting the focus to images and themes that interest us.
Having read that for some people completely free writing may turn into a sump of misery, I may be including a health warning next time I discuss the idea of ‘morning pages’ with a group.
Have you ever tried writing ‘morning pages’? Or do you have a different daily practice you could recommend?