Monday, June 25, 2012

Morning Pages

Red Tide at Amazon

Peg Brantley, author of debut novel Red Tide, is this week's guest. Red Tide is available in both print and eBook.
I have shelves full of books on craft. I admit that although they’ve all been perused, there are only a few that have been read and marked up. I have a few favorites, but today I want to talk about one in particular.
There’s not one thing in it that has to do with POV or plot or character development or anything that we work on to improve every time we sit down to write. And even more, I want to drill down to just one takeaway from this book that doesn’t mention our craft but has everything to do with it.
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron should be required reading for every writer. I bought this book years ago, long before I became serious about creating a piece of entertainment that only uses words. It set on my shelf for a very long time until apparently, the time was right for me to crack it open and go to work.
My biggest takeaway from my first time through TAW has been the concept of morning pages. Three full pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand writing. This simple little habit helps me deal with my Lizard Brain (thank you, Seth Godin) or whatever you want to call your inner Censor. For a while, I called mine Snake. It’s the little voice that resides inside my head and tells me I can’t spell, or find the right word or… do this.
What you write doesn’t matter, just that you write. You can write about the things you need to do that day or the things you did yesterday. Not every day of morning pages will give you fantastic insight, but I promise you, done faithfully, they will.
One of the most useful things my morning pages have evolved into is that of a personal brainstorming session. The stream-of-consciousness process allows me to explore plot or character issues freely. I’ve morning-paged myself into more than one perfect place.
In fact, I brainstormed what might be useful to readers of this blog and voila… here it is. I hope you’re encouraged to give this idea a try… and maybe even to get your hands on a copy of The Artist’s Way and gift yourself with the insight and strengths if will help you find.

About Peg Brantley

A Colorado native, Peg Brantley is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. She and her husband make their home southeast of Denver, and have shared it with the occasional pair of mallard ducks and their babies, snapping turtles, peacocks, assorted other birds, foxes, a deer named Cedric and a bichon named McKenzie. Red Tide is Peg's first novel. Her second will be released in late 2012. She's on Facebook and Twitter with her real name as the handle, PegBrantley. Blog:


Peg Brantley said...

Thanks for hosting me, Ellis. You have an amazing blog and I'm honored to be here.

Nancy Lauzon said...

Since I'm currently stuck in the mud trying to grind out the 3rd draft of my WIP, the stream of consciousness idea sounds like something I need to do, thanks!

Peg Brantley said...

Nancy, it's pretty cool. When I need to build a scene, add some tension or figure out a character's motivation I "talk" my through it in my morning pages.

I hope it works for you.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

I'm embarrassed to say I've had this book for years and never read it. Because you've been singing its praises, I brought it to Oklahoma with me ... but haven't cracked it open yet. :/ One of these days ...

Peg Brantley said...

You will Jess, when the time is right. I had it on my shelf FOREVER before I finally decided to play. I thought I might read it again this year, but now I'm thinking 2013. There is work and time involved, but it's worth it.

Ellis Vidler said...

Peg, so glad to have you here. I gave The Artist's Way as a gift but haven't read it. Now I must. It sounds like a good way to kick-start the process. Thanks for the great idea.

Polly said...

Whatever works, Peg. It sounds like you've found your magic bullet. As far as stream of consciousness writing, I feel almost everything I write is a stream of consciousness. Maybe a stream of UNconsciousness better describes it. Valuable post, Peg. That's one book that's not on my shelf. Will look into remedying that.

Peg Brantley said...

Ellis and Polly, you guys should consider doing some kind of a group thing with the book. It's that good.

Thanks for hosting me, Ellis. It was a pleasure to be here.

jenny milchman said...

I know some writers who would really benefit from this resource. Thanks, Peg, and Ellis.

Peg Brantley said...

It's a phenomenal learning source. It's one of those things I think can form a strong base—a structure—for future knowledge.

Thanks, Jenny.

Ellis Vidler said...

Peg, let me read it and then we'll talk. What sort of group? Heaven knows I need motivation. :-) I have more ideas than I'll ever write.

I'll check the library this afternoon.

Darla said...

I love finding a new blog and gobbling up past posts. This one is great. Thank you, Ellis.

As for TAW and 'streaming' I have been hooked on it from the get-go. As such, I'm tickled to see that published fiction writers find the practice so beneficial. Thanks, Peg (who may never see this comment since I'm posting late but the gratitude is out in the ether and that has to be good), for helping me feel like I'm doing at least one thing 'right.' LOL

Peg Brantley said...

Hi, Darla. You can't go wrong with Ellis's blog. My bet is you will always find something on here you can use.

A lot of my morning pages are routine and mundate, but every once in a while I get a nugget that makes me sit up and smile. I'm also betting that you're doing a lot more things right than just one thing.

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment on an old post. It made my day.