a guest post by Ketil
As a musician and writer I´ve often struggled with writer’s block, or creator’s block, and the reason is very often a negative self destructive inner voice; my inner critic.
I’ve found this inner critic to not only prevent me from taking down ideas, from distracting me from work and selling my instruments cheaply on ebay, but also on a more general level, preventing me from living my life as I would like to and how I know I can.
One of the ways I’ve managed to bypass my inner fiend has been to do regular writing exercises, inspired by Julia Cameron’s concept of Morning Pages, from the book “Artist’s Way”. It has allowed me to explore my subconscious feelings and made me productive and unstuck in a way no other exercise has.
So what are Morning Pages?
Some call them a brain drain, others stream of consciousness. They are hand written pages in a notebook, blurted out with no or little filter early in the morning to wash away unwanted feelings and a way to listen to your subconscious. In Cameron’s book she suggests filling out three A4 pages, which usually takes around half an hour - 45 minutes for me. Dionne and I don’t always do them in the morning by the way, and refer to the activity mostly as “doing our pages”. And the main idea with these pages are to, yes, DO them. If you can’t think of anything to write about, then literally write “I can’t think of anything to write about” hundred times over. Chances are you’ll get tired of this repetition though, and eventually entertain yourself with some actual thoughts on your life and interests. Ive found it to be a way to listen, to find out who I am, and what I want. Is this a good decision? Is this what I really want? These pages are not to be read again, by you or anyone else. I must admit though, I occasionally revisit them as I've had many good ideas during the sessions and after a while they can become more focussed and useful.
During my Pages I write poorly, jumping from subject to subject, often with no clear thread, but the goal is only to fill the page. Sometimes I see my inner critic write for me. I get to know him, when he reacts negatively, when I should listen and what I should ignore. I keep my fiend close to my chest, where I have him under control. I stopped listening to my inner critic as the truth and started to use him as a filter, the way he was meant to work for me.
Morning pages offer me insight into how I'm feeling, as well as providing a really useful tool to finding my flow - with creativity, productivity and my own unique voice. As an artist, one is often encouraged to create something authentic, something original, something connected to the now, our own experience of the world around us. But sometimes this "now" can be hard to experience. Sometimes we don't really know who we are and what we want. Perhaps our decisions are even taken by people around us? Perhaps we are floating around in a daze. So, we need a tool to find our own personal creativity again, to find out where we are and how we feel there. This is the start on a path towards honesty and authenticity, and that is the road to something truly amazing and fulfilling.