My stack of Morning Pages notebooks tells me that today, 4/8/14, is my one-year anniversary. That means one year of writing every weekday morning, stream of consciousness, by hand, in my notebook. I already wrote about the Gift of Morning Pages, so I’m not going to repeat myself here, but I do wonder what one year of this practice has brought me? Obviously it’s become important to me or I wouldn’t have made it a daily practice. So what is it?
Has my life improved because of Morning Pages? For sure. Writing in the morning, seeing my handwriting manifest itself on the page means I don’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of my busy family life. I relish the daily ritual of being able to say, i.e. write, whatever I want. It’s become a place to offload anger and disappointments and work out frustrations, and to celebrate accomplishments and joys. There, I can pat myself on the back as often as I want, or I can gripe about something as often as I want without anybody noting how petty I am. Plus, what Julia Cameron says is really true: Once you’ve written down your anger, it does dissipate, while a joy becomes augmented. Funny how that works.
Has my writing life improved because of Morning Pages? Definitely. I have been more productive. Last year I set myself the goal of one publication per month, and I met that easily. I’m also on track with that this year. The practice to tending to my writing every morning fosters that productivity, but my Morning Pages notebooks have also become the home of lists of ideas, tasks and accomplishments, and so that daily habit of checking in and leafing back through the pages once in a while to visit old ideas just helps in bringing more ideas to fruition.
Has my writing improved because of Morning Pages? I think so. Writing is about developing your own voice, and in writing Morning Pages, you are doing exactly that. You hear yourself. You dump the frustrations and excitements and then you can hear what’s really there. If you’re a nonfiction writer like me, it’s even more important to hone in on your own vision, and to discard the clutter of all the other voices that bombard us every day. For me, Morning Pages are 30-45 minutes every morning of listening to myself. And that, in this busy and boisterous life of mine, is really a gift to myself.
So, far from being a daily chore, Morning Pages are a ritual I truly cherish, and I get antsy when something prevents me from sitting down on the couch with that first cup of coffee, cracking open that notebook and seeing where my pen will take me that morning. If you are doing Morning Pages, what have they done for you?
I remember about 10 years ago I discovered the book the Artist's Way and it was such a therapeutic experience. I would love to go back to doing morning pages everyday like that and good for you for doing them for a year!
Nicole, thanks for sharing your experience. The Artist's Way is indeed therapeutic. You might want to push yourself to do Morning Pages again. It's worthwhile.
I've written down things that have been a source of anger for me, and it helps- it lifts the anger away.
William, yes! At least the anger doesn't eat up your brain then.
It has been years since I did those morning pages. I know there is that mind body connection that is good. But I get writers cramp so badly that I prefer to type. Still, if I remember right it was just three min a day. Hmmm. Might have to go dig that book out of the pile. Thanks for the great post.
Sharon, I had to get used to writing by hand again, too. I guess typing is OK if the hand hurts too much. Morning Pages are, however, three pages a morning, not three minutes. It takes me between 30-45 minutes.
I started doing Morning Pages, then I allowed life to get in the way and stopped. Note that I said 'allowed' I know full well that we make time for the things we want to do. Thanks for the nudge, Annette. I'm going to try to get back to the morning pages.
Nancy, more power to you in getting back to Morning Pages!
I have not been good about doing morning pages daily, but I try as often as possible to grab my notebook before settling in at the laptop for the day. I might switch to typing rather than handwriting them. That way not having my notebook handy is no longer an excuse.
I also don't force myself to finish three pages. I get my thoughts, plans and dreams on the page and let that be enough. Sometimes it's two pages, sometimes four.
Jennifer, whatever works, works! Although I fail to understand the issue of the missing notebook. I have one particular one for Morning Pages, and it lives right on the side table next to where I sit on the couch to write them.
You've given me a good idea. I used to keep my notebook by my bedside, for the rare mornings when I could write before getting out of bed. But more often, I don't write until returning from the gym. I head right for my home office and never touch the notebook. Now I'll keep the notebook by my favorite chair and make a point of writing there every morning before heading to the laptop.
Congratulations on all you had to report!
I have Julia Cameron books and I understand what she's after. I've tried to do it but also let life get in the way. I always was ambiguous about doing it (know many who are successful at it) because I was afraid it would dissolve into a diary of complaints and "poor pitiful me." Perhaps, though, with many family issues coming to a head that have 100% stalled my writing I need to try morning pages again to get back into a writing rhythm.
Julie, thanks! The thing is that Morning Pages actually help in getting those family issues out of your head and onto the page. That doesn't solve them, but often, in writing about them, a path becomes apparent. At the very least, Morning Pages take the energy out of them, giving you energy and mind space to write.
Julia Cameron and I have an ambivalent relationship (http://paulareednancarrow.com/2014/02/23/creative-monsters/). There are times when I think morning pages are useful. There are other times when I bore myself with the whining and complaining they produce. I suppose that, too, is a revelation, but when there is so little time for writing I tend to prefer to do Lynda Barry's What It Is exercises daily; they result in more usable material. The important thing is to find something to do that primes the creative pump, and to do it regularly.
Paula, yes, well put! The main thing is to have a regular practice of something that gets the creative juices flowing.