Morning pages.

June 24, 2016 § 6 Comments

IMG_0194Writers struggle with…well…writing.

Committing beliefs, dreams, and ideas to paper, making the word flesh, takes courage.

What will people think when they see, in black and white, what goes on inside your head?

That’ll keep you from writing. But to be a writer you have to put words on paper.

Begin by writing for nobody. Grab your pad and paper and write something, anything. Toss words like confetti!

Still can’t?

That is because your inner writer, that blind-wanderer, has a traveling companion, the critic within who whispers, “Everything you write sucks.”

When you write can make a difference. Try writing first thing in the morning. The inner critic armors-up as the day goes on, but as you leave sleep you are less guarded, less self-censoring.

Your inner-critic sleeps later than your imagination.

Wake up and write something every morning. Something that doesn’t matter.

IMG_2207_edited-1Make it a habit and pages will fill. You will also come to know yourself better as themes recur. I was unaware of how much I think about tomatoes, my messy house, aging…

I do this wandering form of writing every morning. It is nothing like the work I do later in the day when I continue the long march toward a finished novel.

My morning pages are a no-fault opportunity to try things out, to be foolish or serious, to stand up on the bicycle seat.

Here are some samples to give you an idea how wide-ranging these random morning thoughts are. (I did not run this post by my inner critic.)

The following entry was written at the interface between awake and asleep when dreams are still fresh:

barack-obamaI was hanging out with President Obama.

As I’ve surmised from visual comparisons on TV, he’s not a big man, but carefully made, easy-going too.

I hated the part of the dream in which we were abducted and they tortured him. He was on the ground in his white shirt, cuffs casually rolled. A snarling dog had his face in its jaws. The president couldn’t breathe.

Awake now, I wonder if his time in office has been one long struggle to breathe, to maintain that cool calm in the face of bigotry dressed as “loyal opposition,” and obstructionism that has made “no” a form of governance.

I’m glad I got a chance to hang out with him–except the part with the dog.
Here’s one about music:

Jimi MckenziePride blinds us to how common the traits we label as “talents” really are.

Take music.

It’s in all of us, innate, like the urge to breathe, an asset jointly held, part of the DNA of humanity.


The beat of rhythm comes with having a pulse, the thread of melody with having a voice, the compelling urge to make music comes with the brevity of our time here and the need to respond to the wonder all around us.

So we tap a foot. Sway in time. Whistle. We can practice, polish, and perform, but the uncut diamond of music resides in all of us.

This entry was written in Italy, watching the dogs at the main house next door play:

IMG_9801_edited-1The old dog forgets, for now, that he is too tired and dignified to tussle with a Shepherd so young his ears lack the starch to stand up straight.

It is early morning and something stirs in him.

His rheumy eyes will remind him as the glancing sun clouds his vision, and his breath runs short.

He will tire of the upstart who is spending energy as if it has no limit. Before long he will flop down on his belly to doze in a patch of sunlight and the young dog will nudge and nudge—and then lose interest.

But for now the old dog is a puppy once again and the young dog, once again, a litter mate.

Here is one about discarding an artifact of my father’s life:

I emptied the first of my father’s big blue binders. All his financial documents for 2001 are on their way to the recycle bin. I am waiting to put them out until pick-up day, as if the 2001 financial information of a man dead since 2007 might contain something of interest to a thief.

Or maybe the act of discarding it is what is slowing me down. It was so carefully assembled. Dad spent first-thing every morning considering his portfolio–I still see him at his desk.

The row of binders on the closet shelf stands witness to his care and caution, the fact the Great Depression never quit breathing on his neck.

But I need a binder to hold an ongoing project of my own, a class I am about to teach. That careful record of decisions and transactions is now just paper.

My father and the financial world have both moved on.

Note: Morning Pages are sometimes more than throw-aways. It is like panning for gold, reading through past pages. Little flecks glimmer in that silt of words. Ideas, unconstrained by reason and judgement, mingle with nonsense. 

I expect to find my next novel shining up at me one morning.

Not yet, but maybe tomorrow.

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