towards effortless writing

I’ve just read Dorothea Brande’s short & brilliant book Becoming a Writer. It was first published in 1934, but except for her advises on portable type writers …, it is really up to date.

Here is an advise on how to write Morning Pages … (before Julia Cameron came to name them so)

…. if you are to have the full benefit of the richness of the unconscious you must learn to write easily and smoothly when the unconscious is in the ascendant. The best way to do this is to rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can—and without talking, without reading the morning’s paper, without picking up the book you laid aside the night before—begin to write. Write anything that comes into your head:

  • last night’s dream, if you are able to remember it;
  • the activities of the day before, a conversation, real or imaginary;
  • an examination of conscience.

Write any sort of early morning reverie, rapidly and uncritically. The excellence or ultimate worth of what you write is of no importance yet. As a matter of fact, you will find more value in this material than you expect, but your primary purpose now is not to bring forth deathless words, but to write any words at all which are not pure nonsense.

To reiterate, what you are actually doing is training yourself, in the twilight zone between sleep and the full waking state, simply to write. It makes no difference to the success of this practice if your paragraphs are amorphous, the thought vague or extravagant, the ideas hazy. Forget that you have any critical faculty at all; realize that no one need ever see what you are writing unless you choose to show it. You may, if you can, write in a notebook, sitting up in bed. If you can teach yourself to use the typewriter in this period, so much the better. Write as long as you have free time, or until you feel that you have utterly written yourself out. The next morning begin without rereading what you have already done. Remember: you are to write before you have read at all.

The purpose of this injunction will become clear later. Now all you need to concern yourself with is the mere performance of the exercise

Throughout your writing life, whenever you are in danger of the spiritual drought that comes to the most facile writer from time to time, put the pencil and paper back on your bedside table, and wake to write in the morning.

Dorothea Brande Becoming a Writer

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