Monday, December 12, 2016

Morning Pages One Year In by Caroline Starr Rose


Last December a friend whose life circumstances had kept her from writing for quite some time mentioned she'd started Morning Pages. She was almost 100 days in, and for the first time in years had found she was looking forward to returning to the page.

For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, Morning Pages is a discipline developed by Julia Cameron, author of the classic how-to on creative recovery, The Artist's Way. I've had a copy of the book for almost ten years, but have never read past the first few chapters. Listening to my friend talk about moving toward her work with new joy and expectation, I thought about trying The Artist's Way again. Maybe I could use regular journaling as a discipline in my own writing life.

The book is meant to be read as a self-led course, one chapter a week. Participants commit to two things: the Artist Date, a weekly experience meant to fill the creative well (what Cameron describes as "assigned play"), and the Morning Pages, a three-page handwritten daily exercise meant to reconnect the artist with creativity.

It's been almost a year since that conversation and my decision to give Morning Pages a try. While I haven't always been consistent with my weekly reading (and even less so with the Artist Date), I have loved my own version of Morning Pages.* The practice has become a key part of my morning.

There are no rules about the writing. Because of this I've been free to use the exercise in any way I like. Sometimes I simply type out everything I'm thinking. The Morning Pages then become a place for me to process and set aside the thoughts I might not have known were bothering me. I also write about the things I want to accomplish or need to remember, an impromptu daily list of sorts. Other times I use the writing to prime the pump for my work later in the day. I've used it to brainstorm the last few lines in a picture book and as a place to figure out a revision plan of attack. This blog post, which has become the most popular ever in six plus years of blogging on my personal blog, started in one of those ten-minute sessions. Some mornings I write as I might in a traditional journal. And when I'm truly stuck, I keep my virtual pencil moving by typing one of Julia's affirmationsI am competent and confident in my creative work (yes, this is a little corny, but it's a good thing to "hear" myself say!).

Do any of you write Morning Pages? I'd love if you'd share your thoughts in the comments below.


* Ten minutes of typing on weekdays

6 comments:

  1. This sounds like a sweet and smart way to stay creative. Keep the juice flowing Caroline!

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    1. It's really become a key part of my morning.

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  2. My wife gave me the gift of a taught Artist's Way course 18 years ago. I found it illuminating--I began to write poetry, and even went so far as to perform at an open mike! I also used the morning pages for quite some time. (You're right: Artist's Dates were harder to accomplish.) With three early-rising kids, I fell off the wagon and it's been years since I put the precepts of The Artist's Way into practice. Since I'm currently creatively stymied, maybe I should revisit the practice again? Thanks for reminding me of the benefits, Caroline.

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    1. I love that your wife gave you an Artist's Way course as a gift!

      I'm in the in between years, where one child rises earlier than the other. I get up with the first, make coffee, spend some time reading my Bible, then move onto Morning Pages. It's been a great beginning to my day.

      With both boys in high school next year, I'll have to figure out how to adapt my morning routine. I'm open to ideas!

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  3. Years ago I did a version of morning pages. I had a house full of babies and toddlers and when I put them down for afternoon naps I just sat on the bed while they were sleeping and committed to two pages of either free writing or writing the the next scene in my book.

    I'd actually love to return to that practice now because my youngest is in high school and I've found really the best thing with high schoolers is to be awake when they get up but not actually leave my bedroom until they are off to school. Less chance of getting into an argument about what their wearing or their choice of breakfast foods.
    I've been spending my mornings getting a jump on the email but maybe my time would be better spent on writing by hand.
    Worth a try! Thanks for reminding me of this Caroline.

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    1. I had to smile about the breakfast food choices! I have one who currently swings between junk and fruit, and another who has only eaten bananas this school year.

      Until last year, I was using this time for email, too. It's been good to get my thoughts straight and my words moving so early in the day. I'll think of you, Rosanne!

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!