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?
Evening 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.