Writing is often a chore for me. With that in mind, I’ve undertaken a new morning ritual called “morning pages.” Morning pages is a writing exercise devised by Julia Cameron and popularized in her book, The Artist’s Way.
The morning pages exercise is designed to help you recover (or discover) your creativity, and silence what Julia refers to as the Censor. The Censor is that critical inner voice that criticizes each and every word you write and makes it brutally painful for you to write anything.
“The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery. As blocked artists, we tend to criticize ourselves mercilessly. Even if we look like functioning artists to the world, we feel we never do enough and what we do isn’t right. We are victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic, the Censor, who resides in our (left) brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth…The point is to stop taking the Censor as the voice of reason and learn to hear it for the blocking device that it is. Morning pages will help you to do this.”
Interestingly enough, one of my clients wrote me this morning after reading about my struggle with writing. She said: “I really did think that writing came so naturally that you had no problem putting pen to paper and the words just flowed out of you. That is a wake up call for me.” I think the same thing when I read other peoples’ writing. I think writing must be so easy and natural for them, when in reality, that’s likely not the case. It’s very possible they struggle with writing nearly as much as I do.
So this morning, I tackled morning pages. My first reaction … I hate writing longhand. By the time I had finished, my elbow was burning with pain. I contemplated whether or not to just type my morning pages, but I think I’ll stick with the longhand for a bit to see how it goes. It’s probably like starting a new exercise routine. Initially, it’s painful and feels unnatural, but as you continue to do it, it’s gets easier. I’m hoping it’s the same with morning pages.
Besides, there’s something to be said for exercising a different part of the brain. According to the latest brain science, your brain is highly plastic; meaning that when you undertake a new activity, such as writing, the brain physically changes in response to the new activity.
So as I continue to write longhand, new neural pathways and connections are being created in my brain, and that seems like a valuable part of the growth and development process to me. It’s like the starfish that can regenerate a severed limb. Only I’m regenerating parts of my brain. And becoming a better writer in the process. Hopefully. I’ll let you know how it goes.