It may not come out in the missives that I post here every so often, but I’ve been writing professionally for a long time. Since 1989/1990. I still find that hard to believe …
While I still have a lot to learn about this craft we call writing, I like to think that I know a thing or two about it as well. A few years ago, I informally coached a few people who aspired to write. Some of them wanted to turn pro one day. Some wrote (and still do) because they enjoyed it and wanted to improve.
There’s one piece of advice that I kept giving them: write every day. I sounded like a record that keeps skipping, but that’s the key to improving as a writer. Practice. Practice. And more practice.
For a few of those folks, finding time to write was (and sometimes still is) a challenge. To help them tackle that challenge, I advised them to write morning pages.
The idea behind morning pages is simple: first thing, or thenabouts. in the morning you sit down with pen and paper and just writer. Morning pages are a solid tool for getting through a creative block, or just a cathartic therapy.
But morning pages are an excellent way to practice writing, too. If nothing else, writing morning pages clears cruft from brain so you can get the words that you want down on a page or on the screen. Because, as Mike Baron has said many times over the years:
Every would-be writer has a million words of sh*t clogging up his system. You have to get it out before you get to the good stuff.
Your morning pages are your own. You don’t have to make your morning pages public unless you want to.
It doesn’t matter how much you write — it can be 100 words or 500 words or more. It doesn’t matter how you write. You can craft your morning pages by hand in journal or on legal pad. You can write using a text editor or word processor. You can use a dedicated online tool like 750 Words. The key is to sit down and get words from your brain on to paper or a screen. The goal is to write. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Doing that builds the discipline of writing. Having that discipline is key component to 1) improving as a writer, and 2) being able to take a stab at writing professionally.