This morning I managed to wake up on time, which meant 15-20 minutes for writing my “morning pages” which I’ve been pretty lax about the last few weeks. Now, on the far side of the morning, I can definitely feel the difference that getting those 3 pages written has on my energy levels. Starting the day on the right foot has a profound effect on my mental processes. The same way that lean protein for breakfast has me craving healthier stuff all day, focusing my attention on writing when I first wake up makes me feel more in control for the rest of the day. I’m now in week 10 of Walking in this World (from now on: WitW), Julia Cameron’s follow-up to The Artist’s Way (TAW), which means morning pages have been in my life for almost 6 months(!). Along the way I’ve added in the weekly “artist date”, regular long walks, and now the end of day “Ta-da list”.
I’ve always been a bit of a creativity manual glutton. I eat them up. I love reading about artists’ processes – Ray Bradbury writing out a list of random words every day and then doing a story about each, Stephen King putting out 2000 words a day no matter how long it takes until he has a finished book to edit, Robert B. Parker managing to be more prolific than King by writing 10 pages every morning and leaving the read-through to his wife. I always wonder how much experimentation went into arriving at those numbers. Does Stephen King get cranky if he has to sit down and write 2500 words? Does Robert Parker lose steam at 11? Being a writer is like being a word factory, so I love to see the leading manufacturers releasing their corporate manuals to the public. The machinery and end results may differ, but the raw materials and the process look remarkably the same.
I’m still figuring out the best conditions for my writing machine. Last week’s WitW called for a start to finish perfect day. At first I was thinking “Okay win Nobel Prize, swim in the ocean, deep dish pizza with Oprah for dinner...” but in truth the best possible day for me has all cylinders warmed up and running at their best. It likely would look something like this:
-Early am: wake up, write 3 pages
-Big breakfast – eggs, fake bacon, multigrain toast, coffee, fruit, milk
-Read and respond to mail/ emails (mail in the am? I’m dreaming big…)
-Walk to gym along bike path
-work out, with tv on Biggest Loser or SYTYCD
-Long walk home, catching up with family by phone
-Writing for 2 or 3 hours
-Dinner someplace I’ve never been and walk around different neighborhood
Not so tricky, huh? And I could put it into practice this weekend if only the mailman and TV stations would oblige.