Are Morning Pages A Writing Tool?

Writers need tools. We need space to create, to brainstorm and to follow through with the ideas we develop. We need that. I am a fan of customizing your tool kits. What works for one writer, does not become the uniform for every other writer!  I cannot emphasize this enough. The things that I have found that work for me, don’t work for every writer. This is one of the joys of being a writer! You get to customize what works for you and toss away what doesn’t with no explanation given.

I believe after using this writing option for a month, that it is indeed a tool. It is something that can be used for writers to be more focused on what they are writing. Even being intentional about what it is you desire to writer. It helps to clear your head–even prepare you for what it is you have decided to create for that day. It’s a sort of locker room, if you will, for writers.

I want you to bear in mind that to be a writer, you must writer. There is no shortcut, no quick way, no back way to become a writer. You have to writer. You must figure out where it is you fit in this vocation, and make your own roux. One of the ways you do that is to gather your tools for your own toolbox. Writing pages are one of those tools that you can use as you see fit. I like using Morning Pages when I have a project that I have to do, and feel that I need to have my mind a little more focused. The glorious thing about Morning Pages is that you can customize your schedule! If you don’t necessarily want to do them, you don’t have to! But once you commit to doing Morning Pages, you will maximize their benefit through your discipline in writing them. 

For the time that I have used them, I have been better able to command my thoughts. I have been better prepared to write. I have found my8self more disciplined, and even the flow of creativity being greater.

As hard as writing can be, you need all tools at your disposal. Don’t knock new tools. Being a writer demands versatility, and the keen ability to adapt. Only foolish craftsmen reject tools that will only help them.

Happy Writing!

[image from techgyo.com]

The Use Of Morning Pages

Writing is one of those careers that is both static and dynamic.

The latest thing that I have come across my desk is the idea of morning pages. I had heard of this concept, or writing exercise from a YouTuber I have followed for years now (Shira:  SugarFreeTV/SynchoncityStudios/VisionClass. If you haven’t followed her or heard of her, she is a gem!). She was going this free (FREE!) YouTube hosted class, Vision Class, and she introduced this concept. This was about 3-4 years ago. The idea, the purpose for this, is to write as the first thing when you get up.

No topic.

No theme.

No erasing.

  The ideal is to create, pour out if you will, whatever is on  your head.

Simple, right?

Now, this is  not a practice a lot of writers that I know implement. I journal, and have on and off since I was bout 8 or 9. Morning pages is alike a heightened form of journaling. It’s stream of consciousness–whatever is on your head–no feelings necessarily involved.

For some writers it could be assumed this will help clear your head. Clean the slate for the day ahead. I get that. It’s a tool. Every writer needs tools. What works for one doesn’t work for another, and that is the glory of writing. Use it if you can; if you can’t, it’s rubbish. Writing is a discipline. Remember that–we can use all the help we can get.

[image from Pinterest]

Keep Going! This Is Why You Write…

Image result for red marks on essays

Writing is work! Octavia Butler said that sometimes writers would rather clean toilets than write.

She’s right.

There will be times when sitting at a computer, or pens out lusting for your hand to seduce the pages of blank paper under them–and you will think, “Why am I doing this?” Every writer I know has experienced this. It’s beyond self-doubt. It’s more dangerous than that–it’s apathy.

Apathy is a thief.

It steals all creative joy. It steals all promise that ambition and talent will bring. It lies and tells us that no one will read our novels, our poems or do our workshops. It lies to us because if apathy knows how talented you are—it would be unemployed. It would have nothing to say, nothing to offer, noting to give. It has nothing else to tell you.

In deciding to submit your work, in being a writer either indie or through an agent, you have to know two things.

One:

Not everyone is going to like  your stuff. This is crucial.

Two:

There are people that will like your stuff.

 

 

Some of the most hurtful criticism I have heard gotten was from someone close to me whom called what I did my ‘writing crap,’ Another was when I was writing for another blog, and they changed almost everything that I wrote. Here recently, I was told that my sentences were too cluttered, and my mechanics just sucked. However, I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop writing. I didn’t find sycophants. I took the criticism, weighed it for relevance, and kept it moving.

 

Writing is a constant balance. A constant need to swim upstream and know you can. That is the crazy part—you can do it. In the face of opposition and evil editors and low readership to blogs or mailing lists, you can do it. The question I need to ask you is, do you want to?

 

[image from Google]

 

When The Dam Won’t Break

There is nothing more stressful to see the words in your head and can’t get them to your hands. Don’t confuse this with writer’s block. This is what I call The Hitch.

The Hitch differs from Writer’s Block in one way:  accessibility.

Writer’s Block is the drought; there is a drought. There are no words.

The Hitch is when there are words, and somehow, someway, there are none.

Think of it in the case or form of the above image. The water is representative of the writing talent, the mastery of words as it were. Sometimes in all our rush to create, we don’t take time to listen to what the waters of talent are saying. We don’t pay attention to whether this is a drought or a hitch.

The Hitches I fear more than Writer’s Block. Why? You can almost explain it or explain it away if necessary. The Hitches are assassins. They rob you of cohesion to thought, creative insight and mock you when you try push through.

The Hitches are imps of the creative process.

In including this quote from Stephen King, it is your inoculation against The Hitch. It acknowledges, and identifies yourself as you are:  a writer. A slayer of words and pages. You have worlds to create and people to direct! You must break the dam!

This is done by confronting whatever it may be that has stopped you from going forward. This can be defined by three topics:

  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Exposure

 

Fear. Margaret Atwood says fear comes to writers because we indeed are afraid of something. What are you scared of? The worst thing that could happen is either people not read what you wrote, or they read everything you wrote.

 

Doubt. This rears its ugly head when you think what you  are creating isn’t good enough, or not worth your time because ‘someone else wrote it.’ This may be true, but you haven’t done it! You haven’t created it. The people in your head haven’t lived it! Let the people in your head out!

 

 

Exposure. There are things, stories, appetites that writers roll around which may be alien to what you may be used to writing. That linguistic trepidation  is normal. The choice then becomes–will you chase after the thoughts? Will you indulge the strength of your imagination? I’ll give you a hint:  YES. This is the beauty of a free write and other writing tools in your tool kit.  You can write down what is in your head–and never show it to another living person. Then, when you are ready, you can take that file or those pages and make an entire world. Which people will read.

 

Your blank pages are waiting on you. Don’t keep them waiting long.

 

 

[images from Google; screenshot from YouTube Channel, BioGraphics]

From The Crates

LEAVING:

(c) October 2015 JPHarris

The voices are aging. The forebarers that lit the path through the igniting of thought are leaving towards the same light that sent them.

In contemplation, I find myself going to these people: my mother Bessie Bush, Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou. It was my mother whom introduced me to the worlds books hold, and the solace they provide. In my darkest moments, she would ask me, “Are you still writing?” I would answer her as my situation dictated. I recognize there will be a day where I will no longer have benefit of her voice on the other end of a phone. Despite past contention, she has been graced to be my mother. I will need her until the Lord will need her Home. I thank her for being my mother when it would be easier not to be.

Anyone that knows me understands my love for the other 2 aforementioned women. With the nation losing our grandmother Oracle in Maya, I grappled with that sense of loss-I have enjoyed her work since age 9 when my mother gave me her copy of I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. All we, yes we, have left of her, is what she left: her letter and voice.

Toni Morrison is 84. The same age as my grandmother whom would be 86 this year. I found Toni Morrison in high school and was rapt with her tone and description of anything. I knew then, this gift of words and being a writer, was indeed a craft. Indeed a craft. There will too be a day where the world will only have her letter…and voice.

The Word of God says “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” In this space, I commit these intangibles back to Him seeing as He is the giver of all good gifts. In that process, in the beginning of the becoming and faith in its end, I believe a portion of my legacy will be left to treasure in letter and voice.

See mom, I am still writing.

When The Paper Is Empty

Think of writing as an ocean, ebbing and flowing. There are times where there is a lull in writing. There is a time where the words aren’t coming or won’t come.

The paper or screen lays there like a blank, whitewashed catacomb. It is the scariest thing to a writer. It’s not writer’s block. It’s a quiet, the lull…the ocean moving away from the shore.

The ocean is your talent, gift, the ability to create with pen and paper. The shore is the connection of idea, talent and availability. Creativity flows in cycles be seasons. There are times when the flow is seamless and writing is easy.

The tidal waves are what I live for! The ideas that flow and crash. The ideas that come out of nowhere and everywhere! There is the calm, soothing waves after you finish a work.

But the lulls? As hard as that is, they are scary and quiet. They are these desolate places where you try and push back to the shore. And if enough time has passed, you look for the shore. You look for anything that has life to it or shows life on that shore.

The scarier part still, during this lull, you think you may never get back to it.

Fight the lulls! You do that with rest, time and learning to swim, as it were. Not everything is a novel, or a blog post. Some things are just meant to be noted. Recorded. What you catch during the lulls crafts your ship, which will always take you back to shore.

Sometimes, you have to tread water…even in the ocean. What you catch will keep you afloat.

[Image screenshot from YouTube Channel, BioGraphics]

The Intangible: The Belief In You

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In all the encouragement you have found this month, the one thing you need to remember is this. There is no magic ingredient for success, no key, no secrets to tell. The only secret I can give you is to look in a mirror. You are the secret ingredient.

You are the key.

You are the magic.

You are it.

 

The rescue you want is in your reflection and fingertips. You are the intangible. You are the hero of this story. Always remember this.

As a writer, you will have bouts of self-doubt to the point of it crippling you. The doubt reaches into the innermost parts of you and sets every thing you know your talent can bring you on fire–and makes you watch.

Remember your why.

 

Only you know why you write, and you have all the power you need inside of yourself. Unless you believe you can write, you never will. Unless you believe you can write, and determine that you will write, there is no inspirational book or blog which can help you. There must be the inner belief that resonates, catches fire in order for you to continue on this grind. You can do it if you believe you can.

 

If you believe you can, you’re right.

If you believe you can’t, you’re right.

 

It’s a process. Everything you do towards your writing, if this is what you want, determines the width and breadth of what you demand of yourself. If you want to write, you’ll write. If you don’t, you won’t.

The crux is what do you want to do more:  quit or keep going?

 

 

[image from Google]

 

October Theme: Writing Horror

Image result for harvest time

 

The theme for October will be something some may find frighten everyone whom writes:  loss of the gift, or believing the gift or talent is gone.

This is going to a hard one, and it’s going to be a little more personal. We’re going to delve into some of the things that hinder, stop or halt writing.

I invite you all to chime in, be honest and transparent.

The only way to get through this type of fear is in community.

Buckle up, it’ll be a bumpy ride–be we’ll make it.

 

 

With Pen & Ink,

JBHarris

The Five W’s And The One H of Writing

Image result for why i write quotes

Writing is one of the only professions aside from acting, I think, where the only authority is your self:  Can you do what it is you are being asked to do?

At times, it can be helpful to examine The Why. Every writer goes through a point where writing seems impossible, self-doubt becomes a religion and the words seem to be mud or muddled. In times like this, because they will come, consider this journalistic tool:  the five W’s and one H.

What.

Who.

When.

Where.

Why.

How.

All the breadth and depth of your talent can be answered and discovered by this tool. It may even help with the dreaded writer’s block! This tool can be used for a specific project as well.

Let’s examine further:

What.  This portion deals with subject matter, content, even a start date for the project you’re working on.

Who. This portion deals with character and audience. Is this going to fiction or  non-fiction? What is the target audience? Is this fiction? If it is fiction, is it age appropriate? Knowing your who will help you to streamline what you’re working on.

When. Is there a deadline, or should there be one? If there is a deadline is a hard deadline (meaning you can’t move it) or a soft one (it can be augmented). These deadlines can be given or issued by yourself or the entity you write for.

Where. Are you aware of the platform this work will be seen on? Is this going to be private or public work? You may think this is a trite question, but it something as a writer you need to consider! In that consideration, you are able to streamline what you desire to do and if you have the freedom to do just that.

Why. Here is where it gets interesting. This three letter word is one that determines the course of a work or a project. Here is your motivation to create, persist or keep going. This is the key to any project, the passion to any work, and a reason to see the end of a novel. If you can determine, capture and harness this–there is nothing to fear from blank pages.

How. This is your booster to your why. This portion compels you to see venues and opportunities to see your work, to finish projects and to collaborate with people just as hungry as you are.

Writing is thrilling, frustrating and also one of the most exhilarating things in the world. I’m glad you’re a part of it.

Keep going. You have an end to see.