I was sure it had been four years since I adopted the habit of writing Morning Pages, but one of the benefits of blogging is that it does provide a log of what I’ve been up to. Each year, I celebrated my Morning Pages anniversary, and thus it turns out that it’s been only three years. It really seems much longer than that to me because it has become such an integral part of my life.

I can go several weeks without producing a piece of writing, by which I mean an essay or an article that I plan to submit for publication, or fiddling with a larger writing project, but I rarely skip a day of Morning Pages. Five mornings a week, Monday through Friday, with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, I sit in my spot on the couch, my legs curled up under me (not very healthy), the notebook propped on the armrest, and write whatever comes to mind until two pages of these red/black books are filled. In last year’s photo there were five notebooks in the stack, now there are seven.

My husband has become accustomed to my writing in the morning; even if I can eek out only ten minutes, it’s a graciously quiet time for me. I aim for two pages, which takes me about 30 minutes and two cups of coffee. If there is less time, I settle for less because it’s still beneficial for me to visit with myself. That’s what Morning Pages have really become: a visit with myself. As Julia Cameron writes, and to her I am indebted for this wonderful ritual of Morning Pages, “writing means expressing yourself, and in order to express yourself, you need to have a self to express.”

My Morning Pages books have become sign posts, places to house ideas that get scribbled on the margins, homes for lists of ideas, tasks and plans. Those pages of lists are often ear marked, and I do return to them now and then, to see where I’ve been, where I wanted to go, and whether I made a few destinations or ended up taking a different route. I’ve noticed that often, when I begin writing, I’m first dumping the trash of the current events in my life, and then it truly bops around less in my mind. As I keep going, however, I write myself into something else, something I didn’t see coming, something new, be it a different angle on something that’s happened, or an idea for an essay.

Every morning I marvel again at the beauty of this process. It is simply a great tool not only for a writer, but for life.