Morning Pages!

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by Robin Munson

Years ago, when I was going through a dry spell as a songwriter, I stumbled upon a book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way. It is a 12-step program for recovering artists. This book gave me some very practical tools for opening my (sometimes blocked) creative channels. For a long time, it was my “bible”, and the exercises in the book were very helpful. I believe it is still in print and is readily available on-line, in bookstores, or in libraries.

Over the years I became distracted by life’s twists and turns, and I stopped doing the one thing that was the cornerstone of my personal recovery process: Writing morning pages. And when I stopped writing morning pages, I experienced a gradual decline in my creative output. Recently, I have reinstituted my morning pages practice, and I am beginning to see subtle changes – for the better.

If you are interested in trying out morning pages, I will give you the Cliff Notes version of how to do it. I think it’s worth the minimal investment of time. (And it only costs the price of a spiral notebook that you can get at the Dollar Store!)

The idea is to write three pages every morning – with pen or pencil – not on the computer. Ideally, write while you’re still a little groggy, so that you’re in the half-awake/half-dream state. That way, chances are, your inner critic (you know, the mean little voice that takes every opportunity to put your work down) is still asleep, and you can write freely without all those pesky interruptions.

You can write about anything at all! If nothing is coming to you, write about that! Then see where it leads you. You might find yourself writing about how you feel – physically, or emotionally. You might write about something in the news that caught your attention. You might write about a memory. You might recount a dream. There are no limits. If you’re angry about something, write about that. Don’t worry about grammar. Don’t even worry about content. Just fill up three notebook pages in long hand. Then forget about it. Close the notebook and put it away until the next morning. (Julia Cameron says that for the first few weeks, you shouldn’t even read over your work.) And, by the way, if your mean inner critic pops up while you’re writing, write about that! Several times I’ve filled up three pages by writing a dialog between me and my inner critic. That was very interesting and cathartic.

There are many other very helpful practices in The Artist’s Way such as the “Artist’s Date”, and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book to find a copy and explore. But if nothing else,

I hope you will consider trying your hand at Morning Pages.

Thank you, Julia Cameron. Namaste.

2 Replies to “Morning Pages!”

  1. Hi John,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. How wonderful that you were able to pass on this practice to your son, too! I find that Morning Pages help me on so many levels — For one thing, and this is something I’m only beginning to realize, this practice helps me to feel that I have agency in my life. If I can stick with this exercise and begin each day with it, I know I have done at least one good thing for myself every single morning. And like you, sometimes I find the solution to a problem within my writing exercise. Also, very often I plan to write about one thing – and find myself writing about something else that I thought was just an inconsequential matter. – Three pages later, I realize that something I deemed inconsequential was actually *very* important, while something else I thought was monumental turned out to be “meh”! Happy to know that this simple, yet profound practice is enriching your life.

    Best wishes — Robin

  2. Hi Robin!
    Thank you so much for sharing this about The Artists Way.

    I read Julia Cameron’s book back in 2001-2002 and started writing morning pages then. I have written thousands upon thousands of pages. I switched to writing on my iPad a few years ago, because the journals started to take up more and more room in my studio.

    I think the pages take on a different meaning for different individuals. I got my son, a designer, turned onto the Artists Way a few years ago and he now makes morning pages a daily practice. He’s shared some of his entries with me and I was intrigued about how different they were from mine.

    I think the more honest, brutally honest, you can be with your pages the more helpful they are. I find more times than not, that I can go into my pages with a problem and leave with the solution. And that is why I will continue to do this, probably for the rest of my life.

    Thanks again for sharing! I encourage anyone else to give it a try. You might be surprised where it takes you!

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