Morning Pages and my Writing Style by Olivia

This summer I attended Vanderbilt Summer Academy’s “Novel Writing” course. In the class, I was able to explore my prose style in the development of my novel and was introduced to several new writing techniques. I still use many of them today, but one has completely changed my writing style: Morning Pages. As a child and self-proclaimed aspiring author, I ironically could never keep a diary. It might have been the pressures of living up to that of Junie B. Jones, but filling up a diary seemed far too daunting.

Morning Pages took away that pressure and changed the entire scope of my writing style. The activity is simple: write. For fifteen minutes, sit at your desk, on your floor, on your bed; pen, pencil or marker in hand and write. Turn on the timer on your phone and write whatever comes to your head first. You can draw or doodle, but for fifteen minutes fill up the pages of your journal – no agenda, no pressures; just write. The goal for the activity is typically three pages, but I have found it most helpful to set a time limit.

When I first heard about this activity, I admit, I was skeptical. It seemed far too simple. But Morning Pages has completely changed the way that I write. My writing has become more focused and controlled, and “writer’s block,” (whether you believe in it or not), invades my brain far less frequently now. Even on days when I am not writing, Morning Pages has helped me to stay focused on my schoolwork.

For me, writing typically comes in three phases. A slow start, a sudden shift and a gradual fall. If you have been writing for a while, you might be familiar with the feeling. You start writing, and for a while nothing worth keeping seems to end up on the pages in front of you. Then everything suddenly makes sense, and your handwriting gets messier because your brain is working quicker than your hand, or your fingers are racing across the keyboard to keep up with the brilliant metaphor you just came up with. But then, slowly, your brain begins to shut down as if saying, “That’s enough for today, try again later!” Your handwriting gets neat again, and you know you’re probably finished writing for the day. Morning Pages has changed that completely. I now find starting to write much easier and a scene that would have taken me an hour to write now takes half the time.

I don’t know if it’s the low expectations or the removal of diary stereotypes, but I now have almost two full notebooks and I’ve only been doing this activity since June. I would like to think that I will continue this activity for the rest of my life, and would strongly recommend it to anyone that is even remotely interested in writing.

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Posted on November 16, 2016, in Editorial Board Essay. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m definitely going to try this, Olivia! It looks like it’s super helpful for not just general writing inspiration, but also possible for NaNo. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  2. For my family, we always had extra homework where we wrote 300 pages every day. Now we do this kind of thing in a few minutes and typically go a few thousand words over the goal.

  3. Also, I found that my dreams are some of the most useful things ever. They can pull such incredible emotions out of me that I wake up crying, or terrified. Without thinking, I tend to just write this down, and this helps fill novels and diaries and whatnot. I recently had my best dream ever, with ideas aplenty. For me, filling a journal is hard because without ideas, I cannot write. I can’t put anything down on paper if there is no inspiration, no drive. If I do, it ends up being bland, and I hate myself when I write something so boring as that it hurts to read.

  4. I’ve never heard of Morning Pages, but it seems really cool to try!!!

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