Last December a friend whose life circumstances had kept her from writing for quite some time mentioned she’d started Morning Pages. She was almost 100 days in, and for the first time in years had found she was looking forward to returning to the page.
For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, Morning Pages is a discipline developed by Julia Cameron, author of the classic how-to on creative recovery, The Artist’s Way. I’ve had a copy of the book for almost ten years, but have never read past the first few chapters. Listening to my friend talk about moving toward her work with new joy and expectation, I thought about trying The Artist’s Way again. Maybe I could use regular journaling as a discipline in my own writing life.
The book is meant to be read as a self-led course, one chapter a week. Participants commit to two things: the Artist Date, a weekly experience meant to fill the creative well (what Cameron describes as “assigned play”), and the Morning Pages, a three-page handwritten daily exercise meant to reconnect the artist with creativity.
While I haven’t always been consistent with my weekly reading (and even less so with the Artist Date), I have loved my own version of Morning Pages.* Three months in, the practice has become a key part of my day.
There are no rules about the writing. Because of this I’ve been free to use the exercise for anything. Sometimes I simply type out everything I’m thinking. The Morning Pages then become a place for me to process and set aside the thoughts I might not have known were bothering me. I also write about the things I want to accomplish or need to remember, an impromptu daily list of sorts. Other times I use the writing to prime the pump for my work later in the day. I’ve used it to brainstorm the last few lines in a picture book and as a place to figure out a revision plan of attack. This blog post, which has become the most popular ever in six plus years of blogging, started in one of those ten-minute sessions. Some mornings I write as I might in a traditional journal. And when I’m truly stuck, I keep my virtual pencil moving by typing one of Julia’s affirmations: I am competent and confident in my creative work (yes, this is a little corny, but it’s a good thing to “hear” myself say!).
Here I am, close to my own 100 days, so grateful for this new experience.
Do any of you write Morning Pages? I’d love if you’d share your thoughts in the comments below.
* Ten minutes of typing on weekdays
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Linda Jackson says
I hadn’t really thought of them as “Morning Pages,” but I journal first thing every morning…like literally, get out of bed, wash my face, grab a cup of coffee, and go to my meditation spot, without fail, and read multiple devotionals and write in my journals–a thought journal and a thanks journal–every single morning. Now, thanks to this post, I will begin calling them my Morning Pages, because I like that phrase. 🙂
Exactly. Those are Morning Pages. And you’ve reminded me I also use mine to reflect on my Bible reading. I’ll think of you tomorrow, Linda, doing the same.
Irene Latham says
Dear Caroline, I love morning pages. I find them a dumping ground, very similar to what you describe. It’s like clearing out the clutter, so those shiny bits can catch my attention in my writing later in the day. I also include an Artist’s Affirmation each morning. I need the reminder. xo
I thought of you when writing this post!
Lynne Robbins says
I still have the first morning page I wrote, about five years ago, wondering whether this morning page thing would be worthwhile. It has been, for all the reasons mentioned. I don’t manage it every day, but when I do, the rest of my day benefits.