Sunday, September 13, 2009

the morning pages: part I.

I'm a dead sleeper, I don't wake up for anything. You know how animals hibernate in the winter? I hibernate every evening. This morning, much to my displeasure, I was woken up on two separate occasions; 1. my room-mate plopping his dog on my bed as I pushed him out the door with my profanities and 2. my mother dropping off groceries. Yes, my mother is still a mother even AFTER I've graduated college; this is something that will never change, even when I'm making the mega-bucks (ha, that's a laugh) and have a family of my own. After sipping down my Smooth Move tea (you've got to get those bowels moving) and chomping on a mediocre bagel from Starbucks, I plopped down on my neatly made bed and decided to get to work, only to find out that I have one more day to go until I break new ground. Why? I have to learn the Basic Tools.

"There are two pivotal tools in creative recovery: the morning pages and the artist date." The morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness. In other words, I wake up and before I go to the bathroom, eat a mediocre breakfast, pet the dog (which could be meant two ways, I suppose) or say hello to my morning beside my window, I have to write. Normally, I have to be in the mood to write...don't we all? Cameron points out that the "morning pages are nonnegotiable," I don't have a choice in the matter. If I skip, I skip out on starting out a perfectly good, creative day. Rule #1: Quit making excuses for yourself. Simple. Done. I hate excuses. Ask anyone, if I make them for myself I'm a hungry, hungry hypocrite. Also, I have to remember that my writing in these logs are not meant to be works of art or even writing, it could be anything that's on my mind. I'm also not allowed to read the first 8 weeks, just write them, rip them out and seal them in an envelope or hide them.

"Although occasionally colorful, the morning pages are often negative, frequently fragmented, often self-pitying, repetitive, stilted or babyish, angry or bland --even silly sounding. Good!" Great. Just what I need to do, write down my negativity, which it will inevitably be about one of three things (I'll keep you guessing). All of this petty whining that I will be scribing away my mornings with stands between me and my creative energy. Worrying about my financial situation, taking out the dog, cleaning the apartment, my relationship, my friendships, my job -- this stuff inevitably ruins and muddies up my days. Put it in writing, right? It'll clear out your head. This ultimately won't be an issue, since I've always been a fan of journaling-- in class, in life, with finger-paints and Lisa Frank stickers in elementary school, it always helps put you in a better mental state. As an artist, I am my own worst enemy and overall, my own worst critic. As many of you know, I tend to be a bit judgmental on my own work. I didn't hit the high note, I was flat again, I didn't get the harmony, you didn't get those steps right, you could add some more color here, he's looking at me the wrong way...what does that mean? I'm a Virgo and I stand by that. I'm a perfectionist, to the point of annoyance. In High School I had the same issue, being a control freak was my first nature. I am a victim "of [my] own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic, the Censor, who resides in [my] left brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth," this bitch has hit the nail on the head. My own opinion shouldn't count and. My censor tends to say things like "You'll never be good enough," "Keep trying sucker, but you'll never be the leading man," "You call this writing? You're a joke," "The clock's ticking, babe, get a move on or go home," "He'll never love you 100%" and so forth. J.M. Barrie's crocodile is following me around with a clock for a dead-line. As a native New Yorker I'm always looking to finish the race and try to be in first place to get my gold medal. What's the rush? Some people don't start their careers until their mid-life, and although I don't want to be that person, I can find ways to work around it and "do" a lot of things. My friend Michael at work hates the question, "What do you do?" It's so condescending, don't you think? I agreed. It's asking "Where do you place yourself in the world based on your title and income?" He normally answers with his hobbies, "I design, I'm in a pottery class..." and so forth. I think if we all start answering this question with what we like to do, rather than what we do to make the banks of america keep running and the economy at bay (oh, wait that's already down...oops) we would all be in a happier state of mind. Don't you think?

Ok, back on topic. Rule #2: Remember that my Censor's negative opinions are not the truth. Sold. Easier said than done, it'll take time (time that I now have). I'm going to vow to let my Censor and my brain rattle through my pen (or sharp #2 for you crafty kids) in my notebook and watch as it aims for my creative jugular. In order to get a good picture of who my Censor is and what I envision "it" to look like, you can find it in the picture with this post (oh, that makes sense now, right? Nod your little head "yes"). My censor is a nasty creature of my mind, think of Gollum in 'Lord of the Rings' but with a sharp paint brush jabbing at your creative eye. Not cool.

So why did the artist cross the road (in other words, write three pages of dribble)?
To get to the other side.


  1. again, your voice is so clear in this piece. i'm loving your language. also, your drawing is kind of priceless. frame it for me, please? love you xox

  2. im really impressed by this blog your doing! keep it up!!!!!!!!!!

    oh and it totally reminds me of julie and julia...such an amazing book

  3. I really like the idea of the morning pages. I think it's something I might start doing. Those few moments between when your eyes open and you "start your day" are such a strange set of moments. So many things run through my head. I feel like it's the little time of the day where I am not censoring myself or worrying about what's going on around me. I feel vulnerable and open (in more ways than one...wink). I might just roll over and scribble down some things.

  4. Donell, I highly recommend that you start. Just three pages (which is more than you think-even if it's nothing) and vulnerable, open, stream of consciousness. Even for a week and just look back on it, you'd be surprised at what first pop's into your head or what creative spark may open you to a new perspective on life or your work.