How to Rescue Yourself from Creative Captivity with Morning Pages

portrait of the cat as a writer

I’ve been trapped in the house for about three weeks while recovering from a serious bout of pneumonia. It’s a terrible feeling not to be able to take a full breath; I sympathize with those who deal with respiratory problems on a regular basis. I did, however, enjoy watching Keeper Hubby, Artist Daughter and Poet Son run the household; they were impressive at keeping the juice flowing and the soup hot. After the fever and codeine cough medicine haze lifted, I got back to the business of domestic management, pushing myself too quickly (but they NEED me, right?). A relapse continued my forced confinement and put a dent in my quest to explore different places to write. I couldn’t even go out in my backyard, thanks to a series of ozone alert days full of respiratory-distressed air that settled on the city. That usually doesn’t happen here until August. My captivity started me thinking about other ways to kick-start my creativity.

This week I began writing Morning Pages again.

Morning Pages, if you haven’t heard of the term, is an activity promoted by author and artist Julia Cameron in her classic book The Artist’s Way. First thing in the morning, before you do anything else, write three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, also called freewriting. Author Natalie Goldberg touts this type of mind-freeing activity in Writing Down the Bones, another well-known book in writers’ circles. The concept is to free your mind from the cluttered thinking (read: monkey mind) that tries to smother the creative ideas lurking in your gray matter.

When I first read about Morning Pages, I was enthusiastic, anything for more creativity. But Perfectionist Me, my alpha alter ego, started protesting. You must make sense! Fix that grammar! It has to be three pages! Now you’re behind, so write six pages! When I would miss a day, I felt guilty about it. After more spurts and fits, I gave up. Perfectionism and guilt seem to be common partners-in-crime with procrastination. I’m ready to let go of the excuses and be my most creative me. What to do? Risk it all and be imperfect.

breaking the perfection rules

As if there is any chance of ever attaining perfection. Perfectionism really boils down to fear. Fear of failure. But the condundrum is if you don’t start, you are destined to fail for certain. Without risk, there is no success. Conclusion: Do It Afraid. 

Our imperfections, bumps, lumps and scars make us our unique selves with a unique voice to share, in whatever shape that voice comes in. Embracing our selves, our gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses can take a lifetime.

Ah, the ramblings of an amateur psychoanalyst. Note to self: try to avoid that.

Back to Morning Pages…

Interested in learning more, or getting back into a journaling mode to boost your creative side?

Check out Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way free online creativity workshop here.

It’s freeing to have a daily brain dump, so I’ll keep doing Morning Pages. If I miss a day, so what? Judging myself takes too much energy I could be using to, say, watch talking cat videos. I think of it as cerebral respiratory therapy. And I need all the therapy I can get. Help your brain breathe, the fresh air feels good!

Question: Do you journal on a regular basis? Do you feel it helps your writing/creativity?

Write Anywhere #1

Writers write. What a novel idea. Sorry, I think bad puns are delicious, better than Robin’s Eggs malted milk balls, but not quite as good as Rocky Road ice cream.

As a writer, I struggle with procrastination and perfectionism on a regular basis. I want everything to be just so, the planets aligned and every piece of laundry folded in my house before I get to the business of actually WRITING. Can I get an amen? I thought it might be fun to explore different places to write, since theoretically, writers should be able to write anywhere. Pen and paper and you’re good to go. Would anyone like to join me? You can apply this idea to many other artistic pursuits like drawing, photography, etc. as long as your equipment is portable. So, on with the show!

Write Anywhere: Write at Home

Do you have an office, room, spot, or chair in your house where you write? A regular place that you let the Muse have free reign? Here is mine:

my little writing corner

Don’t let all the neatness fool you. Perfectionist Me just couldn’t let you see the flock of Post-It Notes that regularly nest on my table. Otherwise this is pretty accurate. This little spot is in the corner of my bedroom. After Artist Daughter has her wedding in July, I will be blessed to have an entire room for writing. Before I snagged this worktable, my spot was wherever in the house I could find quiet. In the comfort of my little corner, or maybe because of the comfort of my corner, I regularly struggle with distraction.

It seems we writers can easily get distracted at home because there are so many other things that legitimately vie for our time and can easily be excused for reasons not to focus on writing. You can spot some of the shiny pretties that tempt me in the picture here. Internet, telephone, Kindle, even the window. Television is a big one. “Uh, yeah, honey, I’m studying the subplots of  ‘Swamp People’. ” I’m working, yeah, that’s the ticket. Housework, bill-paying, cooking meals, conversations with family members and exercise machines are some others you can’t see that at times scream “Pay attention to me!” (Okay, I confess, if the exercise machine screams at me, I usually can’t hear it because I am too busy eating a Snickers.)

I am learning to overcome these distractions. Don’t answer the phone, turn off the internet, put on my writing hat. See it there on the table? When I’m wearing it, my family knows they better keep the conversation to themselves. It seems to be working fairly well, and it’s a good psychological cue for me.

Do you need some inspiration to find a writing spot?

Suzannah Freeman of Write It Sideways helps you create a writing space on a budget here

Poets and Writers magazine photo essay of writers’ writing spaces here.

TeacherWriter gives tips to create a writing space you’ll love here.

Find your writing space at home and WRITE. Because writers write.

Question: Where is your writing space at home? Post a photo on your blog and show us!

Welcome to Write Anywhere!

Welcome to my quiet little piece of cyberspace. Breathe in some fresh sea breezes, grab a cup of your favorite relaxing beverage and slide into a patio chair. (That’s how I imagine my little piece of cyberspace anyway. You can imagine your ‘zen spot’ and we’ll both kick back.)

This blog is my journey to encourage myself in my pursuit of writing, specifically by exploring new, mysterious and strange places to write. I will also post on other whims, flights of fancy or talking cats that catch my eye. Join in on the fun and let us know where you create. You can also check out #writeanywhere on Twitter.

If you don’t want to miss any of the fun and strange cat noises, stayed tuned!