I always thought Writer’s Block could be cured by simply showing up at your writing desk every day and waiting for the words to appear.
Then I got the worst case of Writer’s Block I have ever experienced.
After six long weeks of sitting at a blank screen each day and feeling like a part of my brain had shut down I started to worry. No matter what I did the words and ideas never showed up.
I tried all sorts of stuff to unblock my mind; forcing myself to write something different, taking a break from writing, throwing myself into my Goodreads challenge, changing my diet, talking to Writer Friends, reviewing my WIP, returning to Yoga, wearing new underwear, taking vitamins, shouting my frustrations from rooftops, screaming into supermarket food freezers (very good for the creative soul), tweeting random stuff and taking cold showers. Nothing.
Then the desperation set in. Cue the mood swings, paranoia, tears and sarcasm. This was quickly followed by wandering about the house, looking like a lost ghost, wailing, “am I still a writer?”
Luckily for my family and friends, who had to suffer me during this troubled state, I found an article on Pinterest about Morning Pages and Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.’
So here’s the deal on Morning Pages:
You get up forty minutes earlier, every day, to write, 3 sides of paper longhand. You write whatever comes into your head.
There are no rules on what you write about. You don’t even edit them.
Basically you drain all the rubbish from your brain every morning.
This mental de-cluttering allows you to process the rest of the day with clear thinking.
According to Julia Cameron, Morning Pages, ‘provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.’
So, my initial reaction to getting up at 5.15 A.M. to do Morning Pages was one of horror, shock and disbelief.
Added to this was my dislike of writing long hand.
“I can’t write stuff WITH A PEN!” I yelled. “Pens are so retro.”
“I can’t think at that ungodly time, let alone try to use a pen!”
After a small creative tantrum, a lot of sulking and a signed petition from my loved ones, begging me to start writing again, I thought I would give it a go.
The first week was interesting. I wrote, ‘it’s too early!’ about a thousand times and found myself wanting to return to screaming into supermarket food freezers, whilst wearing new underwear.
The second week contained absolute rubbish and a lot of whining.
By the third week things had changed. I was starting to make important writing and life observations:
- The decision to put my writing desk next to my bed was not one of my best. Thinking ideas through whilst lying in bed only produces snores, not words.
- I am like an emotional sponge, I soak up everyone else’s negativity. My head was filled with other people’s dark stuff.
- My current WIP scared the hell out of me.
By the fourth week I had started to write in the collection of pretty notebooks gathering dust on my shelves. I had even put one in my handbag and was scribbling down ideas, thoughts and observations during my office lunch hour. Writing long hand everyday does strange things to you.
By the fifth week I was able to view situations in my day job differently. When I say differently I mean without emotion. This has been a revelation to me.
It’s the sixth week and I have found myself tinkering with my WIP. I am not fully recovered from whatever blocked me but I feel like I am making good progress. My head feels lighter and different.
I am definitely carrying on with Morning Pages.
Have you tried Morning Pages and how did you find it?
Have you got any other useful tips on surviving Writer’s Block?