Several years ago when I was trying to establish a writing routine, I picked up a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In it she suggests the practice of Morning Pages, whereby you do (longhand) three pages of ‘stream of consciousness’ writing every morning as soon as you wake up.
Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand.
I ended up doing MP for many years and now have hundreds of ‘word-full’ diaries and exercise books, which, if nothing else, serve as a nice reminder of how messed up I used to be!
My latest ‘habit’ is 750 words, which has a similar premise but is done online. Like NaNoWriMo, it awards badges for reaching milestones, typing fast etc. and these little incentives, makes it a very easy practice to maintain. However, I’m trying to use it in a slightly different way to Morning Pages. If I’m starting a short story or a piece of flash fiction or a scene from my novel, I use it to brainstorm ideas or word sprints and honestly, it’s tremendously effective. Yesterday, I did a flash fiction which I’ve entered into a competition and today I worked out the idea for a short story which I need to submit in a couple of weeks. Try it – it might give you the inspiration you need!
Halfway through yesterday my energy levels dropped to the extent that all I wanted to do was go to bed. I couldn’t though as I had a plan; a list of things that I needed to achieve by the end of the day in order to feel it had been worthwhile. I managed a couple – my daily 750 words and a meditation, but then I gave up and lay down. Despite the fact I was feeling horrendous and had clearly succumbed to the flu, I really felt as if I’d failed.
Why do we do this to ourselves? As a freelance university teacher, I haven’t worked much in the last month and I intended that this time should be devoted to writing (or writing related projects). However, now that my return to work is imminent, I’m focusing on all the things I haven’t managed to do, rather than those I have.
It was reassuring this morning to read Mairi’s post,
as she seems to share the same anxieties. She says,
I seem to have spent my time fretting over not achieving what I’d hoped
I feel exactly the same way. I guess one of my new year’s resolutions could be to feel happy, regardless of how little I think I’ve achieved, (in any case, it’ll certainly be more than I had at the beginning of the day!) I can’t help feeling that life is as much about being as doing, as my little kitten, Polly continually teaches me.