Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alternative to Morning Pages: Voice Recordings

In her wonderful book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests that writers write three pages every morning. Just write. Don’t think about grammar or complete thoughts. Write whatever comes into your mind. I found this to be a good “loosening” tool for writing, back when I had time to do it.

Now, I struggle—fight, scheme—to make time in my schedule for my real writing, i.e. my Work in Progress. Morning pages would take time away from the limited amount I have for my story world, where I struggle with my characters’ issues, and my own.

My own issues include grappling with the tools of the writer’s craft which, adequately done, will enable me to render the story I’m trying to tell. Expertly done, they will enable me to create a saleable work of art.

That said, I do understand the need for morning pages. Depending on what gets poured out, they can, potentially, lead to greater self-awareness. Gaining clear self-awareness, and an understanding of our destiny, is the great purpose of our lives.

Let me never be so busy that I neglect to reflect! Because if I do not reflect, I do not grow as a human being. My gifts as a writer are diminished as well. There is less of me to give.

So instead of writing morning pages, I carry a pocket voice recorder with me on my jogs. When I’m not jogging (which is most of the time), it’s in my purse. On my commute, I will often take out the recorder and pour out my thoughts.

I always begin with the date, and then launch in. It’s instructive to listen to the recordings over time to see what issues I was struggling with, and how I resolved them, and how quickly. Speed is important to me. I do not want to be "broken down" for long.

There are always issues. My life is a never-ending rollercoaster of struggles. I expect the same to be true of anyone attempting to accomplish something outside the ordinary routines of daily life.

Often, I am on a long, slow, upward climb toward some end. Then, once I’ve achieved the goal, I enjoy an exhilarating, if brief, ride back down. I take very few moments to rest, and then I start the inevitable climb again toward the next big (for me) achievement.

How do you deal with your issues? Do you find morning pages useful? Do you use a voice recorder? Other ideas?


  1. It sounds like the voice recorder is the ideal solution for you right now. I am not sure that it would work for me - as I am much more of a writer than a talker :) --- but I have found that writing long hand first hand in the morning is not for me either. I use the 750 words website and while I strive to write within my first hour of waking up, I must confess that there have been many a day when I am writing at 11:45 at night in order to not miss a day :)

  2. I worked through The Artist's Way several years ago, and, yes, did morning pages a lot--back then. But not so much anymore. Like you, it seems like time is at such a premium, I want to spend it on the WIP. I can appreciate the idea of using a recorder for introspection, but have never tried it. What I do find, though, is an increasing need to do a short creative something-or-other to stimulate the brain before I actually sit down to write--a word association game, short writing exercise, even trying my hand at haiku, just to keep the brain cells oiled.

    Maybe it's like so many other things, we go through cycles, and each season finds us trying out something new. As long as we are still writing, though, maybe it doesn't really matter what that something is :-)

  3. I struggle so much with making the time to write ANYTHING that I feel like I'm wasting time when I do writing exercises...but I know they're necessary. Thanks for this wonderful post on the subject, Cathy. You've reminded me to get back into them! I like the idea of writing three pages. That's an amount I can deal with. :)

    As for the voice recorder...BRILLIANT! I've got one, too, from back when I worked as a journalist! I wonder if it still works...? One question: Do you type out your ideas after you've given them voice on your recorder? If so, do you do it every day or once-a-week or so? Advice on that?

  4. "Let me never be so busy that I neglect to reflect! Because if I do not reflect, I do not grow as a human being. My gifts as a writer are diminished as well. There is less of me to give."

    So much truth in that one paragraph. I love it!

    I try to keep a journal, but I do it sporadically at best. You've reminded me how important it is - thank you! :-)


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