Morning Pages Insights
In an earlier post, I dealt with the basics of the MORNING PAGES – a practice at the very heart of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. Ten years ago, I read through this book, but poo-pooed the idea of this morning ritual of writing out three, hand-written pages of whatever.
However, now that I’m participating in a new Parisian Creative Cluster and reading through the French translation, Libérez Votre Créativité, I’ve decided to take this practice seriously in order to discover the mystery in its magic.
Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:
- SURFACE THOUGHTS: Taking the time to write down what is going through my head at any given moment (preferably first thing in the morning) allows me to dig down through the initial layer of surface thoughts. Now, my surface thoughts usually express themselves in phrases like: I feel like *&%$ today, I don’t want to do this, I’m tired, I’m still frustrated with what they said about me, This coffee is not so good, etc. If you’re a normal humanoid, my surface thoughts probably seem quite familiar to you. They are normal. There’s nothing really wrong with them, but they are capable of spinning around in my head, picking up velocity and becoming the principle dialog for the entire day. BUT, if I sit down with a notebook and pen and begin to write, the dialog starts to change. For sure, I deal with these surface thoughts at first, but that usually takes up only half a page. If I’m committed to 3 pages, then I have to dig a little deeper, where to my surprise, resides some rather substantial thoughts on life, what I want to do with it, and practical ideas on how to go about it.
- REPETITION AND REPETITION: I’ve realized that repetition kicks in and helps me out in at least two different ways: (a) the most obvious is that I repeat myself in what I write about. If I mention two or three times in a week that I’d like to get serious with a certain project, then I well eventually get serious with it. (b) But also in a more subtle way, the repetition of writing the morning pages everyday and the repetition of writing line after line and page after page, tricks the logical left side of my brain into thinking that everything is safe and secure, going according to plan and well organized. So the left brain systems are lulled into relaxing and drop their guard. This little fact, allows my creative right side of the brain to sneak out of hiding and have a little party. This is why it is SO important to write 3 pages…it takes that long for this little cerebral scenario to take place. If a creative new idea is going to make her appearance in the morning pages, chances are it will be on the third page.
- SELF TALK: You probably heard a motivational speaker along the way who gives advice like “wake up every morning, look yourself in the mirror and say – ‘you’re an amazing person, you are successful, etc., etc.‘” I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t work for me. I feel like an idiot doing that. But, I AM able to do something similar in the morning pages. I’m able to tell myself some things that I need to hear….without feeling like an idiot about it.
I read the book more than an year ago and ever since have not stopped writing the 3 morning pages. The reason, I think, that I am hooked to it is that it lets me plan the day! I generally recapitulate what I did yesterday and what are the things I can do today. I try to write as fast as I can; my best is 36 minutes for 3 pages (93 lines in an A4 size notebook).
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