Techniques for getting unstuck | The Morning Pages

All artists get “stuck” from time to time.  The place where nothing flows.  Where it is difficult to create.  Where what was once a joy becomes something tedious.  Tiresome.

The worst part is that when art is your business, you don’t get that luxury.  You can’t stop producing.  It is professional suicide.

Luckily, you aren’t alone in this problem and a number of different artists have developed strategies to overcome the block.  One of the more interesting ones is Julia Cameron’s idea of “The Morning Pages.”  In her book, The Artists Way Cameron writes: “In order to retrieve your creativity, you need to find it.  I ask you to do this by an apparently pointless process I call the morning pages…the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness: “Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah…”  They might also, more ingloriously be called brain drain, since tht is one of their main functions.”

Cameron asserts that there is no wrong way to do the morning pages.  They are not intended to be art.  Or even writing.

The simple process of writing–longhand–whatever comes to mind.  Cameron says “although occasionally colorful, the morning pages are often negative, frequently fragmented, often self-pitying, repetitive, stilted or babyish, angry or gland–even silly sounding. Good!”

The idea is to bleed out the things that stand between you and your creativity.  We all have what they term in yoga and meditation practices “monkey mind.” According to Wikipedia, the phrase is a Buddhist term meaning “unsettled; restless; capricious; whimsical; fanciful; inconstant; confused; indecisive; uncontrollable”. The morning pages give all of that a place to flow to.  They provide a mechanism to rid yourself of all of that chatter. 

Cameron adds, ” 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…”

If you find yourself right now in a place where you are creatively stuck, commit to a three week practice of morning pages.  Every day. No matter what time you get up.  Without exception. Then let us know how it goes.

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3 Responses to “Techniques for getting unstuck | The Morning Pages”

  1. Dig. I actually started doin this a couple weeks ago as my writing has fallen off dramatically due to my daily “cotton picking”. I combined the purging process with using my weak hand. Having used a phone/pc almost exclusively for the past year, the physical practice of longhand has become a painful experience. So, thank you for the confirmation. It’s helping me to remember that I am truly blessed with talent & insight. If only I could’ve written this with my new pen :\

  2. […] For other posts in this series:  Getting Unstuck | The Morning Pages […]

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