• Dr. Jill Bakke

Morning Papers

Two months ago, I started writing three 8 x 10 pages every morning as I drank my first cup of coffee. I'd tried it before and disliked it. I had found it time consuming and inconvenient and, because I'm not exactly a sequential person, the routine itself became tiresome.

Now, however, in one of the most hectic and busy times of my life, I am finding I love this.

Not only does it vanish all the cobwebs from my mind, it also structures my day. I find that I write the truth about things – or perhaps it is that the truth seeks its way out using this method. It shows up between the lines.

Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way first suggested this method to increase creativity. She recommends you put your daily writings away for four or five weeks then reread them. When you read them, you read without judgment, seeking patterns. Look for what you are focusing on. What shows as loved or not loved? What pressing themes call for your attention?

If you have concerns about having nothing to write about. Hogwash! You are not writing the new best seller.

You write anything and everything. I write about things I like and things I didn't like. I write about the neighbor's dog barking, the weather, what I did the day before, how I slept, my grocery list, a dream, or my to do list for the day. Just write whatever crosses your mind. If you can’t think of anything, you write exactly that, “I can’t think of anything to write.” And you can repeat the same word or sentence over until a new thought breaks through.

But you handwrite the pages. No computer pages.

Why? Cameron insists handwriting slows you down and makes what you write more authentically you. She adds a number of other reasons but boils it down to a simple statement. You handwrite because it works. And in The Vein of Gold, a Journey to Your Creative Heart, she devotes five pages to the explanations of how it works. So, for now, let's just accept that.

It works!

Cameron holds impeccable professional credits. She has extensive credits in film, television, and theater and is an award-winning journalist. She is well-known as a teacher, artist, poet, playwright, author, and composer. One might well call her the quintessential Renaissance Woman. She has lived in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City. But one day while living in New York she perused her morning pages and recognized them that she longed to live in a small more rural area. She moved to New Mexico where she now lives.

Am I more creative because I write morning pages? I don’t know. But I do know I am more organized; my writing is cleaner and there is something satisfying with vanishing the flotsam and jetsam even temporarily from my brain. How long does it take to finish writing those three pages? Approximately 45 minutes. Not bad. The first cup of coffee is finished by then too.

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