Morning Pages: What They Are And Why You Should Already Be Doing Them
It's an obscure concept. Some embrace it, some frown upon it, some brush it off with a head shake and an affirmative "I don't have a creative bone in my body." When I was studying at Sixth Form, I remember being the only person in my group of friends pursuing subjects defined as creative, rather than academic. If I told people the subjects I took, I'd feel obliged to emphasise that I was also keeping up good grades in English Literature to seem academically viable- why was that?
Morning pages are a daily practice pioneered by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way. The book, which reads as a twelve week course, aims to inspire individuals feeling dissatisfied with their professional pursuits to unlock the creativity Cameron believes we are all capable of. Morning pages are a tool, not an end product, but they can be life-changing when accessed in the right way.
The ritual is very simple- three pages of automatic writing done every day, first thing in the morning.
It could be two pages if the lines are tiny, or four if the book is small. The factors have to remain constant for all of the focus to go on the writing. It must be long hand, and consist only of the things you're immediately thinking about. The object is to brain-dump everything with is filling your mind, and acting as a barrier between yourself and your creative goals.
Don't think that morning pages are only useful if you're a writer. In her book, Cameron details all of the career paths and projects that her clients have successfully pursued as a result of actioning their desire for creativity. Producing films, writing music, acting, dancing, making visual art. There is a success story for every possible route. I definitely wouldn't consider myself a writer before an artist and they're worked wonders for me, (as well as giving my notebook hoarding tendencies a greater purpose.)
I wrote my first morning pages around 8 months ago in February, and excluding holiday abroad and full days spent away from home, I have written nearly every day, usually with a fruit tea or coffee in hand and calm music playing in the background. It is not necessary to look back on the writing and you are advised not to for at least the first six weeks, to reinforce the idea of being present. Personally it has enabled me to longhand brainstorm artistic projects in and out of University, organising my days, and to practice the art of writing again in order to launch this blog. They've left me feeling inspired, flat, grateful, confused, but also forced me to reflect on why. If you're reading this from a point of desperately wanting to be creative but not knowing where to start, or wanting to admit it- you do have the time, and all the ideas you need to make it happen. Putting it down on paper, especially in today's digital age is your way of sifting through the erratic thoughts to get to the good stuff- and I urge you to give it a go.