I go back periodically to Morning Pages, the 3 pages (okay, I admit it’s more like 1-2 pages for me) of stream-of-consciousness writing popularised by Julia Cameron. They’re brilliant for working through problems over a period of weeks, for exploring ideas, jump-starting creativity and finding clarity.

Sometimes though, it’s too much. There are no life dramas or plot problems to unknot and the early-morning mental vomit, inevitably grouchy in tone, feels whiny,  self-indulgent and pointless. I don’t want to listen to my half-awake brain grumbling about getting up, but without Morning Pages I miss the rush of energy that comes from a breakthrough and the internal calm as I put my pen down.

So instead, I’ve been writing just a little every morning recently, but writing fiction instead (one of the common misconceptions of Morning Pages is that it must be fiction. Not true. It’s a mental purge that allows space for creativity later in the day and can take any form). Just 5 little minutes of escape into my imagination.

And you know what? It’s brilliant. it’s the mental equivalent of doing a few sun salutations and sit-ups before work. I feel perkier all day because I’ve already achieved something – it’s 8am and I’ve already done some writing, take THAT boring Tuesday! – and more creative, more likely to want to write later on.

I’ve tried to write fiction as soon as I wake before, but trying to force my way a tricky patch of novel before a cup of tea is always disastrous. Turns out I was taking the wrong approach. All I needed was one little thing. What is it?

Ah, that’s for next week. For now though, let me leave you with this, a little something to help you test whether it works for you. Tonight, put a pen and notepad next to your bed. Write at the top ‘Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside’. When you wake tomorrow, grab the pen and write for 5 minutes without stopping.

Then step into the shower with a smug smile on your face.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside letterpress picture

This picture, by the way, was made at a Turnbull Grey workshop. They’re great. I liked it so much I went back for more.