A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with another writer and I casually mentioned that I’ve been writing professionally for a long time. Since 1989/1990. A lot has changed since then. I’m a different person, and a different writer, than the uncertain young man I was all those years ago.
I still have a lot to learn about the craft of writing. That said, I like to think that I know a thing or two about it as well. Over the last year or so, I’ve been informally coaching a few people who aspire to write. Most of them want to go pro at some point. The others write because they enjoy it and want to improve. Or, they need to beef up their skills for work.
The one piece of advice give all of them is to write every day. That’s the key to improving as a writer. Practice. Practice. And more practice. Then lather, rinse, and repeat.
For a few of those folks, finding time to write is a challenge. We all lead busy lives, and writing takes focus. It takes time. So I’ve been advising them write morning pages.
The idea behind morning pages is simple: first thing in the morning, sit down with pen and paper and just write. Anything. Whatever is in your head. Morning pages are a good tool for getting through a creative block. They can also be a cathartic therapy.
But morning pages are an excellent way to practice writing, too. If nothing else, writing morning pages clears cruft from brain so you can get the words that you want down on a page or on the screen.
Even though I’ve been writing professionally for a few decades, I find morning pages to be very worthwhile. I write and post something several mornings a week. The wider web sees my unvarnished thoughts, which is fine with me. You don’t have to make your morning pages public if you don’t want to, though.
It doesn’t matter how much you write — it can be 100 words or 500 words or more. It doesn’t matter how you write. You can craft your morning pages by hand in journal or on legal pad. You can write using a text editor or word processor. You can use online tools like Morning Pages or 750 Words. The key is to sit in front of your keyboard, type, and get words from brain on to screen. The goal is to write. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Doing that every day builds the discipline of writing. Having that discipline is key to 1) improving as a writer, and 2) being able to take a stab at writing professionally.
(A quick plug: If you haven’t already, think about subscribing to my bi-weekly email newsletter. It’s free and I won’t use your information to spam you. Promise!)