IF THE WRITER JULIA CAMERON had said something other than she did about what she has branded “morning pages,” I might feel better about them than I do. But she didn’t, and I don’t, and it was not until this morning that I read something that would have changed my mind about them. Had she said it. But she didn’t. That brilliance was left to the writer Emmanuel Carrere.
As you may have read earlier this week, my new morning workout now includes not only 30-minutes of reading The Paris Review, but doing so on the stationary bike, which is where I discovered these lines by Carrere, in the latest issue of that fine magazine.
In it, he quotes German Romantic Ludwig Borne, who says, “For three successive days, force yourself to write, without denaturalizing or hypocrisy, everything that crosses your mind. Write what you think of yourself, your wives, Goethe, the Turkish war, the Last Judgment, your superiors, and you will be stupefied to see how many new ideas pour forth. This is what constitutes the art of becoming an original writer in three days.”
Of course, it’s the “without denaturalizing and hypocrisy,” that got me. It’s, as Carrere says, “the real problem” in writing, and he clarifies this by saying, “without being afraid of what is shameful or what you consider uninteresting, not worthy of being written.”
You could do worse. I’ll never relent on my disdain for writing exercises and prompts. Never. But you could do worse than to write for three days without the inherent hypocrisy of trying to sound smarter, wiser, braver, wittier or anything-er than you are. And if you do, you’ll truly engage both in this experience that is being human, and being a writer. Try it.