Morning pages are an exercise coined by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way and it’s one of her basic tools to help artists recover their creativity.
They are three pages of long handwriting; I like to use an A5 notebook because it’s easier to carry and I find that it actually better for my own mental health. She does say that A4 would be better but that is a lot of lines to cover and I found it really daunting. And it took me a long time to wrap my head around morning pages, because I thought that they had to be perfect and that they has to be something that was rather polished, but over time I learned that Morning Pages are meant to be messy and they’re meant to be whiney because a lot of the time that’s what happens with my pages but once they’re done they let me go on with my day and let me find out about myself. I’m then able to get on with the real writing.
Cameron is right when she says that there is no wrong way to do morning pages and has said that they were once called the “brain drain” because they allow you to write down everything in your head and get them out. Almost like the page is siphoning them from your brain and collecting them with the lines.
In The Artist’s Way Cameron mentions that no one is to read them not even yourself for the first 8 weeks and I still stick by that even now, years later, because I know that it’s so whiny and I get a lot out of the page but that’s ok. If I do want to go back I’m sure that I will. But I’m ok with not going back to them.
Morning Pages are such an important part of rediscovering your creativity but are also a necessity for your writing practice. I talk a lot about this and I know that it may sound like a broken record but the only way to really get your writing practice healthy is to actually do the work and Morning pages are an important part of that work.
The beautiful thing about Morning Pages is that it helps get us out of our perfectionism and the inner editor that we all harbour deep inside us, because we’re forced to dig in deep and get rid of all of the junk in our heads. Leave it all on the page so that when you go to your stories, your art, you’re able to do so with a clear head.
I find that the more that I don’t do my Morning Pages, the harder it is to get onto the screen. I am procrastinating, sometimes even spending too much time on my phone or binging too many shows because it’s the easy way out. Morning pages grounds me, because I can get out all of the shit that is in my head and I can come back refreshed and ready for what will unfold in my story.
Doing your Morning Pages daily teaches you that no matter what your mood is you’re doing it. The discipline that comes with doing to every day makes it easier to sit down at your computer or at your notebook. Have you figured it out? A writer’s best asset and best friend is discipline. It’s the one value that ever successful writer needs to have. Morning pages are important because you’re able to carve out that time to just let yourself write and by doing so, you stop judging what the quality of what your writing looks like and stop counting on your good moods to write. You sit your arse down and you write. Your artist? They’re a child and just like any child they want to be fed; Morning Pages does this. They allow that inner child to be loved and nourished because you are making time for what is important.
Don’t know what to write? So, write that. On a number of occasions, I’ve written ‘I don’t know what to write anymore but I need to write and if I don’t get to the pages then it’s not going to count.’ And I get angry at not actually being able to think of anything that then I fixate on that! See what happens there?
Writing through your moods helps feed your writerly insides and allows your practice to grow. The more consistent you are, the louder that voice deep inside you gets. The one that is screaming silently for you for you to create at any cost necessary. If you’re stuck in all of the thoughts that you have running through you mind about feeding your cat or picking up groceries on your way home or even your day job, this will allow you to look past it and dig deeper.
When we really look at the mechanics of Morning Pages, it’s amazing to see that we have a way to get out of heads; a problem that many writers face because writing from our heads gets us in trouble, writing from our hearts is better and morning pages helps that become a reality.
I challenge you to this: pick up a notebook and start with one page. And just tell yourself that it’s one page. If you do more, that’s great, keep going, but don’t put the pressure on yourself to do the three pages right away. Work up to it. Morning Pages can be daunting and this is something that you can do easily. A page is just a page.
Let me know if you are a Morning Pages fan or if you’re going to start. I want to celebrate you.