About five years ago, I had an epiphany. And, morning pages helped me to understand and realize that epiphany.
I’d wanted to be a writer for my entire life. In fact, when I was in first grade,
Reading came easy for me and, by this time, I’d been reading for years so the idea to write a book was amazing.
Imagine my complete and utter disappointment, when I realized that I would only be able to write a single page. And, I wouldn’t be able to take it home to show my mother.
Fast forward many years, and that dream hadn’t gone away. In the back of my mind, I was always going to be a writer. And I would write books.
However, the reality was – I simply hadn’t put pen to paper in years, outside of the occasional journal entry when I needed to blow off some steam.
I’m not sure when I discovered The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. Perhaps it was through an online chance discovery, or someone mentioned it to me. I can’t remember. Perhaps I even picked up the book in one of my forays into a bookstore.
Somehow fate interviewed and I did stumble across the book. Even read some pages (still haven’t read the entire thing). I guess it is a good thing that morning pages are the first thing in the book or I would have never found them.
In their most basic sense, Morning pages are simply three long handwritten pages completed each morning as you stumble out of bed.
Morning pages are written in a stream of consciousness style without thought to grammar, complete sentences or even a coherent message throughout.
Now I do understand that getting up a bit earlier can be a difficult thing for many people but morning pages can help in so many ways.
When I began to write my morning pages, it was almost a sense of relief. I could come to my page, first thing after coffee, and just write whatever was on my mind. For the first time, I was able to give myself permission to write whatever came to mind. There were no worries about how does this sound, does it make sense? Does this sound stupid?
It was absolutely freeing.
Having a Morning pages practice has allowed me to come to the blank page without all of the fear and angst that blank pages often cause. Even after I stopped writing morning pages regularly, I am still able to do this.
Are there Rules to Morning Pages?
While there is no wrong way to write morning pages, there are a few guidelines.
Ideally, morning pages would be done as soon as you wake up before your brain has a chance to engage with the day.
That means getting up, head to the bathroom, coffee – if you need it and sitting down to write.
It also means not checking your phone (as I often do) or giving yourself an hour to wake up. They are meant to be written from that sleepy, just woke state.
Also, ideally, morning pages are meant to be done daily. It is a good way to build a habit of journaling.
Things to keep in mind.
Morning pages aren’t supposed to sound smart, although they often do.
These three longhand pages are meant for your eyes alone. In saying that, they shouldn’t be read too often, or ever. I don’t think I’ve gone back and read mine much at all.
As you are writing it is a good idea to remember that morning pages are often:
- often self-pitying
stilted or babyish
- angry or bland
And this is perfectly fine.
What makes morning pages work so well?
I believe there are three things that make these handwritten pages work so well.
First, it is habit-forming. It is a way to come to a quiet place and sit with your own thoughts regularly.
Second, by not paying attention to rules of grammar and simply stream of consciousness writing, the censor is neutralized. When you write first thing in the morning, before you are fully awake and give yourself permission to simply write, the censor has no openings.
And, third, morning pages serve as a brain drain. A brain drain is exactly how it sounds. It is like opening a basin and letting all of the miscellaneous thoughts drain out of the bottom, leaving you more clear-headed to tackle the next thing in your life.
Julia (who is writing to artists, but I think this applies to anyone) says, “all that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity.”
Reducing the barriers between you and whatever you want to achieve is always a good thing.
If you are thinking about trying morning pages but don’t have a real journal, don’t worry about it. Morning pages can be done on any type of paper, any kind of notebook.
Just a couple of words to think about: Make sure your notebook is comfortable for you. Believe me, it will make it so much easier and more positive if you do. And, make sure you have a fast pen. Nothing is worse than having a pen that sputters, runs dry and doesn’t flow smoothly.
My morning pages were and will continue to be done with wide ruled composition books. The wide rule means I don’t have to be super neat with my writing and they are sturdy, without thick bindings. And during back to school time, you can pick them up for around $.50 and can stock up for the rest of the year.
Since I began with this process, I’ve written a couple of novels and am in revision for the first one. I’m still waiting to show my mother that first novel.
I hope you give morning pages a try. I do think they are immensely useful for getting unstuck. Please leave a comment below when you begin your morning pages and how that is going.
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Until next time,