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Writers vs. Procrastination

There’s a useful piece on Angela Booth’s Writing Blog today about a tip she and many others use to battle that familiar scourge of scribes everywhere: procrastination.

Booth refers to her tip as “morning pages”, and the idea couldn’t be simpler. “Make writing the first thing you do every day,” she says. “The benefit of writing first is that you’re closest to your subconscious mind — your imagination — early in the morning.”

Probably anyone who’s read Writing Down the Bones, the journaling classic by  Natalie Goldberg, will no doubt recognize the morning pages routine. Simply “pop out of bed,” as Booth writes, “do the necessary, and start writing. If you need coffee to think, as I do, grab a cup, and then start to write. DO NOT check your email, that’s fatal, because it drags you into the challenge of daily life. Make this early-morning part of your day special: It’s just for your writing. Write fast. Don’t stop to think. Writing fast is easier first thing in the morning.”

Well … I’m not so sure about that final statement. But the point is, Booth is on to something. For those of us writer types who tend to put off work for so long that eventually our entire bodies become racked with the pain of stress, getting to it first thing in the morning can be a huge psychological motivator. Or as Booth says, “Writing first puts you in a ‘writing mood’ for the rest of the day. Whether you’re a full-time or part-time writer, you’ll write more when you write first.”

To learn more about the writing pages concept, pick up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (Tarcher). According to Booth, Cameron is the architect of the morning pages idea; visit Cameron’s website, www.theartistsway.com,  for information about workshops and retreats. 

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