While undertaking some therapeutic displacement activity I discovered a whole new genre of planners. Planners designed specifically for writers. I felt that my heart should have leapt, but instead it sank.
Surely the planner junkie in me would be whooping (much like the way the Inner Goddess cartwheels through Fifty Shades). But instead it sighed and clicked somewhat despondently on the link. It was not disappointed.
What do writers need in a planner that engineers, dancers, doctors and flower arrangers do not? Answers on a postcard please, or you could just write on the back of a stamp. When was the last time you saw a planner dedicated to the needs of a butcher? I rest my case. We all have appointments, commitments both one off and regular. We all have to do lists (even if those of my husband are always, without fail, on the back of an envelope) and some of us have goals and monthly targets both practical and emotional.
Most of us need planners. Actually we all need planners, but sadly some people believe themselves to be exempt from this rule. They are the ones whose necks have been wrung on a regular basis (in fact I could even schedule the neck wringing in my own planner). What we do not need are twee quotes “to encourage you along your journey”. I’d love to see what would be selected for a planner dedicated to an abattoir manager. Okay so I am edging on the edge of facetiousness but I hope you get my point.
There are a lot of things that as a would be author I need to know. I can find them all in the wonderful Writer’s Yearbook, or on any one of the excellent blogs and websites dedicated to the writing process. I do not need them in my back pocket or taking up valuable space in my planner.
So here is a sample of the Hall of Shame.
A working writer’s daily planner – your year in writing I note this is the 2011 version ……
Mslexia Writer’s Diary I love Mslexia but why oh why did you stoop so low and why does it have to have a twee yellow flower on the front ……
Writing World Fortunately I suspect that most people would have lost the will to live just trying to find the link to the planner.
Personally I find it all bit condescending.
The ideal Morning Page would be about 21 and bring me an enormous cup of tea precisely 5 minutes after my alarm has gone off. Actually I don’t care how old the page is, he can be a wrinkly old codger, at that time in the morning all I am interested in is tea.
However, the only person who is going to make me tea in the morning is me, so to the other Morning Page. The one that Julia Cameron suggests you should write every morning. I’m not going to go into a long description of what they are and why you should do them. If you are interested you can read all about it here http://juliacameronlive.com/tag/morning-pages/ I’m more interested in whether they work.
I suppose whether they work or not rather depends on what you are hoping they will do for you. They do not make tea and they can’t write your novel, produce your film or turn you into the next Elizabeth Frink. You still have to do the work, but do they help you overcome that sodding great bump in the road?
I’ve been writing morning pages on and off for about four years. To be honest I’ve been more off than on and I have noticed a tendency for the size of my writing to escalate in an attempt to get to the end of the three pages. I can manage two words to a line (moleskine journal) if I really put my mind to it. However, since the spring I have been writing pretty much consistently every day. During that time I completely rewrote one novel and sent it off to the Mslexia competition. I have written about 20K of the next novel and have won two flash fiction competitions.Novel two is sitting with a publisher. In other news I have gutted several rooms, redecorated two rooms and overseen (rather than actually done) all sorts of odd jobs and outside work that had been hanging around far too long. By any reckoning that strikes me as quite industrious. Ah but is it the morning pages weaving their magic or have I just drunk too much Red Bull?
Recently I’ve not been writing my morning pages. There has been too much on, I can find an excuse for anything if I want to. Even on the days I have written my entries have been woefully short. One particurly pathetic example was half a page of writing in something akin to font size 50. During this time I have not tackled any jobs I don’t want to do, I have hardly written a word, the filing is a disgrace, the house is cluttered and I HATE clutter, I have been supremely successful at time wasting and I have been leaving everything to the last minute and inducing a nightly state of panic where I lie in bed and listen to my guts churn as I go over all the things I have to do, preferably by 6.00am the following morning.
So today I wrote my morning pages, all three of them, in normal sized writing. Even though I wasn’t really in the mood. And look today I wrote a blog post, I’ve got a couple of unwelcome phone calls to make which I’m just about to do. I’m putting my money on the morning pages.