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Morning Pages

Using Morning Pages to lead to spontaneity and free-writing

The previous blog post about spontaneity and free-writing made me think about Morning Pages.

If you’re a writer or know me, then you’ve probably heard of them. But if not, here is a rundown of what they are.

Julia Cameron introduced Morning Pages in her book The Artist’s Way.

They are a daily exercise of doing three handwritten pages of stream-of-consciousness journalling every morning as soon as you roll out of bed.

As she states:

Morning Pages are not supposed to sound smart—although sometimes they might. Most times they won’t, and nobody will ever know except you. Nobody is allowed to read your morning pages except for you. And you shouldn’t even read them yourself for the first eight weeks or so.

I’ve been doing them on and off for 20+ years, and I rarely read them. I wake up, make my coffee, then go to my office and write them.

I no longer handwrite them but instead type them out on my iPad. I’ve lost too many journals and hate the thought of someone finding them.

I have also capped my word count at 600, although I think I should do about 750.

And whatever goes on the page is never salvageable. I learned that lesson long ago when I tried to use them to write some fiction.

Occasionally, I write lists or everything that’s on my mind. I repeat myself a lot and circle around ideas. Often the phrase “What else is going on?” appears. To avoid it, I start a new paragraph instead of reprising it.

But the process helps focus me and clears my head.  

Also, returning to Johnstone, Morning Pages is a way to get past the watcher.

Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods. Above all, they get us beyond our Censor. Beyond the reach of the Censor’s babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own.

She continues:

Any original thought can look pretty dangerous to our Censor. The only sentence/paintings/sculptures/photographs it likes are ones that it has seen many times before. Safe sentences. Safe paintings. Not exploratory blurts, squiggles, or jottings. Listen to your Censor and it will tell you that everything original is wrong/dangerous/rotten.

So if you are struggling to open yourself to creativity, Morning Pages may be a practice that will help.

Or you could combine it with Johnstone’s “take something off the shelf activity.” Instead of improvising, write what your mind finds on the shelf.

Good luck.