Morning pages are something incredible that I took from a meh book. A short while back I listened to the Julia Cameron audiobook The Artist’s Way. While the book was not my cup of spiritual tea, I did take something from it. Something really great. Morning pages.
The title of the post may sound a bit extreme, but it’s not. My adaptation of morning pages has really changed my life. And they can change your life too. While Julia sees them as something spiritual, I really, really don’t. I do, however agree with her on two things:
They are an farewell to life as you knew it, and an introduction to life as it’s going to be.
They have nothing to do with creativity, but what they do is clear your mind.
To me, morning pages are active meditation.
How I make morning pages work for me
Morning pages have two requirements: they are done in the morning, and they are done on pages. Duh. So those are the requirements I follow. As I mentioned, these are not spiritual for me. It is simply a brain vomit. I guess it’s spiritual in that I feel lighter afterwards. But I do not feel closer to God. Perhaps you would. These pages are also distinctly lacking in creativity – I don’t even try write neatly. There’s no pressure.
After I’ve woken up in the morning, I make a mug of coffee, a glass of water, and I sit on my patio table with two notebooks: my daily planner, and my A4 everything notebook. I use my easy-writing Bic pen, and my pretty handwriting UniPin Fine Line. I don’t check my cellphone. I journal. I list things. I write things to get done. I write what dinners I’m planning, people I need to catch up on. I write lofty dreams, things that have happened, that I wish Griffin would stop eating flies because he doesn’t know the difference between flies and wasps.
Julia recommends forcing yourself to write three pages. I don’t. I write until my mind is clear. I usually end up with two “vomit pages” and one or two summary pages. So the summary pages: this is something that Julia doesn’t mention, but I’ve found is imperative for me. Once I’m done emptying my mind, I quickly go through it, and make a “vomit” to do list. A vomit to do list is a long ass to do list, with items that are not equal. Some will get done, some need to get done, and some are really not important. I will chat about this another time, but this is the next step to my morning pages. If I wrote about Griffin’s fly eating, I might remember that he’s almost finished his kibble, and I need to buy more. If I wrote about grand dreams, I write one thing I can do right now to become closer to the dream. Since I tend to think in to do lists, I find more things that my brain had stored away that didn’t come out in the journaling.
After this vomit to do list, I choose three things that I want to focus on and make them my MITs for the day.
How to make morning pages work for you
- do it first thing in the morning. Don’t check email before, don’t check your phone, don’t connect to the outside world. Let your significant other know that morning is quiet time. If your mind is constantly worrying, leave your phone on silent except for one number that would phone you for emergencies. If your life is too busy in the morning, wake up half an hour earlier.
- find a spot. You can stay in bed, although it always makes me sleepy. Get away from distractions. My outside patio is my “chill” place. Find your chill place.
- go analog. You have to do this on actual paper with an actual pen.
- just. write. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing badly. Don’t worry about the subject matter. Don’t worry about your handwriting. These are pages for you. They are not a blog. They are not a journal you’re going to leave your children. You’re not going to blog them. Vomit the thoughts inside of your head onto the paper with your pen. You know how you feel so much better after having a vomit even though the actual vom is not that great? Yeah. That’s what happens here.
- have an assigned journal. Since morning pages are super general, you can use your journal for other “every”things too, but do not pressurise yourself into trying to make this an art journal, or to keep it looking pretty. This is meant to be an ugly journal, with ugly handwriting. This is the journal for getting rid of the gunk so that you can focus your creativity and make it better.
The next step
Depending on how you’re going to be using your morning pages, they might be different things. On some days, my morning pages are pure journaling. Other days it’s a list with things that I need to do, should do, want to do. No matter what they are, I always, always feel clear minded. Before morning pages, I thought that the inability to feel clear minded was just a grown up thing.
Try it out for a week. Just do it every day for 7 days (yes, weekends included). See where it leads you. Make it your own.