Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Write on Wednesday-In the Moment

In the past year, I've become addicted to morning pages. There is something so freeing about sitting down to write three pages every morning and knowing it doesn't matter what I write about, whether the words that end up on the page are sensible, beautiful, logical, or even legible. Knowing that spiral notebook and ballpoint pen are sitting on the table where I left them yesterday morning, waiting patiently to hear all my sleepy headed, good morning thoughts, is like knowing a patient and trusted friend has been sitting up all night just to hear what I have to say.

Admittedly, sometimes the words don't come so easily. Those are the times when I'm the slightest bit fearful of the page, because the reluctance sometimes means there are disturbing thoughts or issues I don't want to face, and they're liable to come rushing to the forefront if I start writing, opening the floodgates in my mind and my heart. I've worked some things out on the page~feelings about relationships, hopes for the future. I've allowed myself to dream "out loud," and also to release my anger in those words I spill onto paper first thing in the morning.

And, because morning pages are all "in the moment," meaning they're not thought out or planned, sometimes all that appears is drivel - what I made for dinner, what movie I plan to see, the new dress I'm shopping for. Whatever flows from my brain through the pen and onto the page is what goes into the mix for the day.

"Daily writing, writing simply for the sake of writing, is like keeping a pot of soup on the back of the stove," writes Julia Cameron. "It is always there, always ready to be tasted, always ready to be added to, always nourishing, savory, life-sustaining. Like soup, your daily writing doesn't have to be fancy. A few simple ingredients are enough."

Cameron's basic recipe for the "stock" of our writer's soup consists of these three "ingredients":

  • Honesty~look at "where you are" in your life, both physically and emotionally;
  • Observation~what's going on in your world, immediately, and in the larger sphere;
  • Imagination~what can you imagine doing, or being that would bring you the greatest happiness?

As I put my morning thoughts on paper, I try to be mindful of these ingredients. Even when the pages seem to be nothing more than a litany of complaints, or a string of worries knotted together like beads, they are reflective of my honest observations about life at the moment. As I write, I feel the soup begin to stir in my brain, simmering slowly as the flavors mix and mingle together. Where am I and what is going on around me? How can I change things? What shall I do next?

Each morning, my writer's soup nourishes me for the day ahead and forms a record of my life "in this moment." The broth only grows richer with each entry.

How about you? Do you keep a writer's soup simmering on the back burner of you mind? What are your basic ingredients?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

My writer's soup: Observation without. Research to know more. Awareness within. Integrity to be true.

Blogger jzr said...

I keep my soup simmering in my journal which are very much like your morning pages, but I usually write later in the day. My mornings tend to filled with physical and busy, busy stuff where later in the day is more relaxed for me. I really enjoy it as you do. Sometimes just can't wait!!

Blogger paris parfait said...

I write every day, but not in longhand. I can't write as fast as I can think and I save the longhand for correspondence that needs to be written by hand and notes to myself in the process of writing whatever I'm working on at the moment. I admire your discipline and consistency.

Blogger deirdre said...

I like this comparison to soup, which I love making from scratch.
I also get a bit fearful about what will come out on the page and that's probably why I can't seem to develop a morning pages habit.
Your devotion to writing is inspiring - it leads me forward and makes me appreciate words even more.

Blogger Inland Empire Girl said...

Julie Cameron would love this post. I let another woman borrow my book at the writing retreat and now I regret it. I love having it close by.

Anonymous bella said...

I need to get back to my morning pages because they do keep me grounded. I've looked back on old notebooks and I loved seeing exactly what I was feeling at those moments. There is time, I have to keep reminding myself of that!
It's lovely to read about your connection with your morning routine.

Blogger ming said...

many days my pages are like soup, today it was all fruit. i forced myself not to get too excited, sometimes al the words come out in perfect form, and sometimes as you say it's just the stock...

Blogger Bibi said...

I don't know that I have a soup simmering. But I do morning pages on a periodic basis ... I use mine for clearing my head (brain dumping as Cameron calls it). And no one (not even me) would be able to make any sense of them. But I'm always much better prepared for my day, and more focused, when I do them.

Thanks for the reminder to start doing them again!!

Blogger Bug said...

Great post, and I love the question at the end. It really made me think. I would say my ingredients are honestly looking at myself/the world (like Julia C. says) and inspiration from all the writers whose work I love.

Blogger Marie said...

When I was doing morning pages, I was loving it...but slowly, I got lazy and stopped...but with your description and the picture in my mind of the soup simmering, I must admit, I'll have to taste it again. I always loved the part of not worrying about all the little things anymore because I'd already written them down. Thanks for the reminder.


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