In order to prepare for writing my first book, I thought it was likely best that I practice writing in general. I know that may sound ridiculous, but I had previously written periodically and never with such continued intent as would be needed for writing a whole novel. I had heard several people praise a method known as “morning pages”, but it wasn’t until I heard Brian Koppelman, writer of the screenplay for Rounders, speak about his near religious adherence to writing morning pages that I decided to give the practice a shot.
For those unfamiliar, the idea is two write three hand written pages of a free flowing chain of though within the first few hours of waking. It is very important not to stop writing the pages once you have begun; the point is to flow through them consistently and, perhaps most importantly, not think about what you are trying to write. I know I was incredibly surprised to discover how much my thoughts stood directly in the way of the forward momentum of my writing. More often than not, I found myself not wanting to write the first thing that came to mind for fear of what someone might think of what I had just written. Luckily, the beauty of the morning pages presents itself in that very problem; no one, not even you, are supposed to even read what is written in your morning pages. Imagine, you allow yourself to write whatever the hell pops in your mind for three whole pages, and in so doing you will have stoked a fire under your desire to simply put words on a page. Nothing south of magic lies in the freedom that the morning pages afford the author who thinks too much; all of us.
My practicing morning pages not only helped me to write my novel, it actually helped me to realize that I didn’t want to write the novel I had originally intended to write. I had completed an entire outline for a novel that I ultimately cast aside because of the things I learned about my writing when I was doing my pages. I know everyone has their own process, and no two authors are alike, but if you often stop yourself from writing because you are worried about other people’s opinions, you might want to give morning pages a try.