• How Morning Pages Saved My Life

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in WBN News & Events     Comments 16 comments
    Aug
    19

    I was curious about Justine’s statement that morning pages changed her life. I would like to hear more.

    Jeff Q.

    Austin

     

    Morning pages are the invention of one Julia Cameron, author of the well-known creative recovery program explicated in The Artist’s Way. They are “the primary tool of creative recovery” in a program that seeks to unblock blocked artists. In short and in Cameron’s own words, morning pages are:

    “Three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness: “Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah, blah, blah . . .” They might also, more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions.

    There is no wrong way to do morning pages. These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing. … Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included. … Just write three pages . . . and write three more pages the next day.”

    Sound pointless and self-indulgent? That’s what I thought, too, until a marvelous thing happened: I got desperate enough to try.

    Since my disaster of a thesis defense—a hideous story for another time—I had developed some nasty creative habits. It’s a complicated business, writer’s block, but suffice to say that I was a.) not writing, and b.) excusing myself with the self-destructive conviction that I was simply too busy—running a business, loving my boyfriend (hi, honey), chasing my sanity, washing my hair, relacing my tennis shoes—and my artist self was starving. I was feeling bad 99.9% of the time, disappointed in myself for ignoring the powerful instinct to write that has gripped me since childhood (oy, and oy again).

    I’ve been committed to morning pages for several months now, and am happy to report that I have successfully overcome my creative funk. After weeks of prescribed brain drain, I’m now comfortable enough with the process to make the morning pages my own. Sometimes I brain drain; sometimes I brainstorm; sometimes I write fiction; sometimes I do all of the above. I’m writing for an hour every morning and—wouldn’t you know it—the world hasn’t crumbled. So I start my work at 9 instead of 8. Big deal. It’s a small price to pay for the incredibly rewarding feeling that comes with making good on the promises I’ve made to myself.

     

    If you have any burning literary questions you need answered, email them to us and we’ll drop everything.

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    Dan Hays

    I agree Justine, in the value of morning pages. I’m not doing them currently, but after working The Artist’s Way process, I did them faithfully for a long time. I’d find that the first couple of pages were “what’s on top” but by the third page I’d get down to what was really going on for me. The morning pages helped me stay tuned in to my creative self. I found the whole Artist’s Way experience just what you described – a “creative recovery program.” I’m now writing a memoir about overcoming a writer’s block with a deep origin, and… Read more »

    Justine

    I have the same experience: by the third page, things really start to heat up. I believe Cameron makes that prediction. She really knows her stuff.

    Your memoir sounds interesting, Dan. I hope WriteByNight will have the opportunity to read your work sometime soon.

    Dewey D

    Justine,
    What a great idea, especially for a beginner like me. I will pass this information on too some friends of mine. They are working on doing some simple writing too.
    I will see you sometime next month.

    Dewey D

    Justine

    Yes, please do. Spread the Artist’s Way gospel! The power of morning pages is quite astounding. We’d love to hear from you and your friends once you’ve given it a shot.

    […] kind you got while school supply shopping back in grade school. It’s a lot like Morning Pages, except I turn to it when I’m in the middle of reworking a manuscript. I use my black book to […]

    […] conversations with people interested in creativity.  I shared how working through that book–morning pages, artist’s dates, and the exercises throughout, had greatly expanded my concept of myself as a […]

    […] kind you got while school supply shopping back in grade school. It’s a lot like Morning Pages, except I turn to it when I’m in the middle of reworking a manuscript. I use my black book to […]

    […] the co-mastermind behind all the glory that is WriteByNight, recently wrote a great post about Morning Pages. I had heard her talk about Morning Pages before, but this post really prompted me to try them […]

    tabulyogang

    I started mine but i need to be consistent. Sometimes i forget. lol.

    Cat

    I have always wanted to try morning pages, but my problem is is that my hand really hurts when I write for too long. I also can’t get my brain going first thing in the morning before any coffee. Why can’t morning pages be done with coffee on typed?

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Hi, Cat. Thanks for reading.

    It’s not that they can’t; it’s just that they’re not traditionally done this way. The idea is to transition into morning pages from your dreaming sleep state as quickly as possible so that you can harness the power of the unconscious for your creative work.

    That said, it’s perfectly fine to make morning pages your own. By all means, do them with coffee! The typing might propose a problem for the flow of your pages, but why not give it a try and see how it goes?

    Good luck!

    KM

    Hi, all! I’ve been wanting so badly to go back to morning pages, but I’ve had a scary experience the past three attempts, and it’s made me fearful of writing them at all. Tell me if any of you’ve experienced this: I go along fine, then about three weeks in (Julia Cameron, I believe, refers to this point as often a breakthrough moment for many), my pen can barely keep up with my thoughts, and the thoughts that do come out are threats and expletives, often in gibberish phrases. I become so filled with the rageful thoughts that my pen… Read more »

    Justine Duhr

    Thanks so much for reading and sharing, KM. What you describe really does sound scary. I can certainly understand why you’d be hesitant to try again, but I encourage you to do just that. Those big feelings exist whether they’re on the page or not, so would you rather have them in or out? My vote is out, and my prediction based on experience both with myself and with my clients is that the intensity of the experience will lessen over time. If you want to talk about this in depth and in private, we absolutely can. Shoot me an… Read more »

    ads

    Same here. Can you tell me more about the three week thing you mentioned? 10 days in and my initial euphoria has given way to the dead marshes and dark corpses of the psyche; the ones that slither in the half light and float up from places one would rather not visit or know. I am almost tempted to stop, the pain or wound feels so great. Does it ease? or is all a great chasm sucking downwards? Do I press on ? Is it folly? or Is there a golden something glimmering in the dark below? Didn’t realise it… Read more »

    David Duhr

    I don’t know if KM might come back and tell us if she/he continued, and the results, but I’d just echo Justine’s advice: “Those big feelings exist whether they’re on the page or not, so would you rather have them in or out?” I’d say keep going. I imagine you’ll know if/when it gets *too* scary, and that’s when it might be time to ease off for a bit.

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

    Glynis Jolly

    I’m not writing in any sort of journal in the morning. I’m just too blurry for that sort of thing at that hour. However, I do spend time writing in a journal of sort before turning out the light at night. I’m not as likely to have bed dreams this way.




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