In the past year, I've become addicted to morning pages. There is something so freeing about sitting down to write three pages every morning and knowing it doesn't matter what I write about, whether the words that end up on the page are sensible, beautiful, logical, or even legible. Knowing that spiral notebook and ballpoint pen are sitting on the table where I left them yesterday morning, waiting patiently to hear all my sleepy headed, good morning thoughts, is like knowing a patient and trusted friend has been sitting up all night just to hear what I have to say. Admittedly, sometimes the words don't come so easily. Those are the times when I'm the slightest bit fearful of the page, because the reluctance sometimes means there are disturbing thoughts or issues I don't want to face, and they're liable to come rushing to the forefront if I start writing, opening the floodgates in my mind and my heart. I've worked some things out on the page~feelings about relationships, hopes for the future. I've allowed myself to dream "out loud," and also to release my anger in those words I spill onto paper first thing in the morning.
And, because morning pages are all "in the moment," meaning they're not thought out or planned, sometimes all that appears is drivel - what I made for dinner, what movie I plan to see, the new dress I'm shopping for. Whatever flows from my brain through the pen and onto the page is what goes into the mix for the day.
"Daily writing, writing simply for the sake of writing, is like keeping a pot of soup on the back of the stove," writes Julia Cameron. "It is always there, always ready to be tasted, always ready to be added to, always nourishing, savory, life-sustaining. Like soup, your daily writing doesn't have to be fancy. A few simple ingredients are enough."
Cameron's basic recipe for the "stock" of our writer's soup consists of these three "ingredients":
Honesty~look at "where you are" in your life, both physically and emotionally;
Observation~what's going on in your world, immediately, and in the larger sphere;
Imagination~what can you imagine doing, or being that would bring you the greatest happiness?
As I put my morning thoughts on paper, I try to be mindful of these ingredients. Even when the pages seem to be nothing more than a litany of complaints, or a string of worries knotted together like beads, they are reflective of my honest observations about life at the moment. As I write, I feel the soup begin to stir in my brain, simmering slowly as the flavors mix and mingle together. Where am I and what is going on around me? How can I change things? What shall I do next?
Each morning, my writer's soup nourishes me for the day ahead and forms a record of my life "in this moment." The broth only grows richer with each entry.
How about you? Do you keep a writer's soup simmering on the back burner of you mind? What are your basic ingredients?