#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Evening Pages

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2
Hi folks! Today I’m once again participating in the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, a blog hop for writers who want to learn from each other and build a community. In the past few months I’ve focused mostly on the community-building aspect of the writing life, discussing things like Twitter chats and beta readers. This month I’m switching gears to focus more on  the internal processes of writing, starting with something I’ve come to call evening pages.

What are evening pages?

sharpened-pencilEvening pages are my answer to the concept of morning pages found in The Artist’s Way. Morning pages are three pages of stream-of-consciousness written in longhand every morning. They’re meant to clear your mind of all its regular life debris, opening you up to creativity. They also help you build a consistent daily writing habit. And once in a while they can turn directly into a creative project.

As one might expect, evening pages are also three pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand writing, but they’re done in the evening. Some days I’ll do them immediately after work, other days I save them for the hour before bed time. I aim for three pages but will write until my mind starts to slow down, even if that takes fifteen pages. The most important thing here is to get everything, even the small and tedious things, out of my mind.

Why evening pages instead of morning pages?

Many writers find that morning pages completely change their life and their relationship with writing. I, on the other hand, find them pointless.

You see, most people are morning people. Their brains are hardwired to be most active and creative within the first few hours after they wake up. This is why getting out of bed early to write is such a common piece of advice. It’s supposed to be when you’re most in tune with your creativity, and it’s also the time of day you’re least likely to be interrupted.

My brain doesn’t work that way. When I wake up there is NOTHING going on in here, except maybe some brain fog. It takes at least an hour to be able to function well enough to do more than respond to email. So I spend an hour puttering around the internet, do my morning workout, and dive directly into my paid work for the day.

For most people the rest of the day after those first couple hours is a steady downward spiral. For me, on the other hand, things only get better as the day goes along. And when darkness hits, instead of the standard wave of tired, I find myself overcome with mental energy. My mind races. And if I don’t do something to challenge that, my mind only grows more frantic when I try to sleep. I’ve been known to spend multiple hours just rolling around in bed, thinking about all the millions of projects I could be working on if only I didn’t need to sleep.

Evening pages help me quiet my mind so that when it comes time to sleep, I can actually do so. They get everything out of my head and onto the page, where I can deal with it the next day–or not–as necessary. And sometimes they turn into stories of their own, even though that’s not my goal.

If you’re the type of person who struggles to sleep because of the 1,000,001 things going on in your mind, evening pages might just be the solution for you.

Do you do morning pages? Do you think evening pages could be useful for you? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

16 thoughts on “#AuthorToolboxBlogHop: Evening Pages

  1. I love this idea! I did morning pages for years, but (gulps) I am also not a morning person, and I have a hard enough time getting moving without trying to move a pen too. I’m going to try this, though, because I *do* find the brain dump to be an extraordinary tool. I feel like I’ve been given permission to cheat now, lol! Thank you!

    • Post Author dlgunn

      Glad you found this useful, and I hope evening pages works out better for you! I’d love to see how it works out for you in a future Author Toolbox Blog Hop post 😉

  2. I had never heard of morning pages before. I wonder which would suit me better (morning or evening.) Hmmm….I’m not a morning person, but I find I get my best writing done earlier in the day. During Nanowrimo, I’m running on empty by the end of the day. I used to love writing in longhand. I was just reading in On Writing that Stephen King also loves the occasional bout of longhand.

    • Post Author dlgunn

      Another person who’s never heard of morning pages! And here I thought The Artist’s Way was essentially required reading…

      And the point of evening pages isn’t to be GOOD writing, it’s just to KEEP writing – and to get everything out of your head so your mind doesn’t start racing when you try to sleep.

  3. I’ve never heard of morning pages, but I kept journals for years. (not a dear diary-type, but essays on whatever I was thinking about at the time) so the concept is probably similar. They are proabably the reason I’m writing today.

    • Post Author dlgunn

      I’m surprised you’ve never heard of morning pages! I’ve been hearing the term bounce around for years – but I suppose I’m a lot deeper into the COMMUNITY aspect of writing than a lot of other writers.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I do my story writing in the morning, but I’ve known to write at any time of day when I’m letting loose with a pen and paper. I don’t do it constantly like I used to. There were times when I spend a whole lunch hour scribbling away. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  5. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only writer who only taps into true creativity once the sun has set 🙂 My hairdresser said the other day that I only “defrost” after noon… probably why things like tending the chickens, exercise and answering emails are best done early. And in that order 😉 I like the idea of evening pages, thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. I am right there with you– I’m not a morning person. I like this idea of evening pages!

  7. I wish I could write a night. I’ve got nothing left by the end of the day. Gotta say morning works for me best.

  8. With health issues and medication I hear you about brain fog. Until two cups of coffee and a few hours have passed I’m useless! Evening’s are for relaxing (I need to wind down or can’t sleep) but I have tried afternoon pages before, which was helpful, now I come to think of it. Not sure why I haven’t done it for a while? I will now. 🙂

  9. Wow. What a great idea. I have never heard of morning pages, but I can definitely see how getting all that inner mental turmoil out on the page could really help. I haven’t done any stream-of-consciousness writing since my freshman year in college. Personally, I flip between morning and night person. Some days I wake up raring to go others, others the fog is so thick my eyelids might as well be closed. Sometimes after my evening workout, I am buzzing and other I am ready to crawl into bed. However, I will definitely give them both a try and see if it works for my writing process. Thanks!

  10. I have never heard of “evening pages” and I love it! I feel free when I do flash fiction piece on my lunch break too but three pages feels completely doable. I am one of those crazy morning birds who can only write first thing because the noise of all my other roles derails my writing brain. I do make my strong coffee of course. 🙂

  11. I had heard of morning pages but I’d never done it. I doubt I could do it since I’m not a morning person and, between morning workout & getting ready for work, I’d probably have to get up before 4am. Maybe evening pages is a way to go…

  12. I’m exactly the same as you, Dianna, I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, I can’t even bear the thought of 5am writers club! I start to hit my stride around mid afternoon and can work late into the night when I’m on a roll. I definitely struggle with ideas going round and round in my head when I’m trying to sleep, so evening pages might really help. Thanks for the tip!

  13. Post Author dlgunn

    5AM Writers club??? That’s just INSANE. And gross.

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