Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let the thoughts pour out of you

Just how much crap can one person -- someone who built a career on writing -- write?

I wonder this sometimes. I write a lot of bad stuff. That's when I'm actually writing, too.

In college, I read and reviewed a book on writing and time management. I was working to put myself through college, and of course, partying, a lot. What a laugh that I didn't have enough time to write. I had nothing but time to write. I wrote a lot of crap and criticized myself a great deal. I wrote a few standout pieces, one of which was so good the same idea became a bestselling novel and a movie. Only wish I had tried to publish my piece. I was lazy and lost and full of self-doubt.

Now, with kids, I'm busier than ever and yet I have more time to write than ever. That's because I understand what time means to me. I know exactly what can happen in 17 minutes.

It's not that I have more time, it's that I know how to use precious few minutes to my advantage. Some days -- few, actually -- pass without a word written on paper or on the computer. Sometimes they are written standing in line, waiting at the doctor's office and often at the playground, watching my girls run and play.

But rarely do I ever not write something, anything.

The key, I believe, is in the mornings.

I've read "The Artist's Way," by Julia Cameron a few times here and there and I've started morning pages and stopped for various reasons -- mainly sleep and children.

But, recently, I've been writing My Three Pages consistently. And I reap volumes of benefits from those few minutes in the morning. I follow the rule of writing three full pages. I dump all the crap out of my life in the first page, focus my attention and daily intentions on the second page and then get creative on the third page. This system has worked wonders for me.

Page Three is consistently phenomenal. Something always pops up on Page Three that surprises me or makes me smile and want to jump up and down. I've had many ah-ha moments on page three.

The trick is not being worried about how you write or what you write but that you just write. The emphasis has to be on purging the junk -- the gremlins -- out onto the page so you can move on to bigger and better creative projects. When something is really bothering me and blocking me, I write through it on all three pages.

For mothers like me, this may seem nearly impossible. I assure you it is not. My kids wake up early and usually find me with my turquoise coffee cup steaming full on the counter with my head in my journal, scribbling fast and furious. That's when they grab their own journals and writing materials and sit down next to me and start doing their writing. Some of it is unrecognizable. Sometimes they only draw. All of it is pure delight to me, to see them learning about taking that precious time in the morning to gather thoughts and be creative before everything else. I love watching them give birth to their own creative souls.

Liana inspires me with how she will write this in about 30 seconds: a d L i i i h T B o I H H H. Silly you, it means we are going to the carnival today. (we're not really)

Writing needs to feel like going to a carnival. It should feel like spinning long and hard and getting so dizzy you just want to collapse onto the cool grass and watch the earth fall drunk before your eyes.

And if you let yourself write long enough that's exactly what it can feel like.

Pure bliss.

Now, go do your morning pages and tell me about your Page Three.


  1. Nice post. I also love to write. I mainly just write for my own pleasure. Sometimes I let others read my work. I've recently come across an interesting thesaurus that takes my mind in new directions. It's called "The Thinker's Thesaurus" by Peter E. Meltzer. It has interesting, original synonyms and modifies the “base word” to add nuance or clarification which yields a more exact synonym. It's amazing!

  2. I am mostly managing to write my morning pages again, after stopping for a while. I like the idea of the 3 differenciated pages like that. It is hard with a toddler who mostly co sleeps with me to wake up before he does. But he will go downstairs and play sometimes! It brilliant the way it clears your head of whingey crap!

  3. When I was at college one of my profs. told us "a writer writes." I want to be a writer again. Not sure how well I will do (in spite of not having kids), but you offer great ideas and inspiration. All the best to you and your work.