7 ways to cheat your way through your morning writing practice

I’ve been writing Artist Way style morning pages on and off for close to twenty years. Writing (by hand) 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness first thing in the morning clears my head, helps me focus and postpones the evil algorithms of the internet. But some days it helps to cheat a bit. Here are hacks from my inner voice, Smarty Pants.

1 Write Large. I know, I know. You mastered this hack in elementary school. Here’s your permission to take up space again. Speak your truth, be bold, make your mark. Make it big.

2 Draw Pictures. Why limit yourself to mere words? A picture takes up the space of a thousand words.

3 Copy. Don’t have anything new to say? Then copy. Write the same words over and over again. Or copy from that book you tell yourself you’ve been meaning to read.

4 Experiment with media.

5 Lie. Truth can be boring. Use your imagination.

6 Outsource it. Let someone else write for you. Who? My guess is you have someone living and breathing within you who is dying for the chance to write. Maybe you’re harboring more than one. An inner adolescent punk? An inner conspiracy theorist? Your future self? Selves who have yet to be named because you’ve never handed over the pen? Let the mute multitudes within you open your notebook and rant. Maybe they can make sense of the mess. Too busy? You don’t even have to be there at all. In fact, you can go back to sleep if you want or just get on with your day scrolling or multitasking or battling it out with the algorithms for you soul or whatever it is you do.

7 Use Magic. Here’s how: Show up at your notebook consistently every morning no matter how confused or empty or how sad you feel, or how early you have to get up for the solitude, or how small your audience. Make a habit of it every day. No expectations. Just write.

Most days you might scribble self-pitying blah-blah-blah woe-is-me noxious drivel. And that’s fine. Better out on the page than in.

But some days, magic happens. Mystery unfolds. Mystery and magic don’t care if it took cheating to get you there.

As Stephen King says, “Lay the pipe.” Show up at the same time every day so your muse will know how to find you.