Morning pages. Brief definition for those who don’t feel like clicking the link above (in which Julia Cameron outlines the original concept): morning pages are three longhand pages written in the morning. They don’t have to be – shouldn’t be – amazing writing. They’re supposed to be stream-of-consciousness, writing about whatever comes to mind, such as “what I need to do today” or describing the dream you woke up from. Nothing stellar, nothing special.
The thing is, they’re supposedly great for unlocking thoughts and feelings and getting them down onto paper, and thus freeing the mind from small worries etc. The theory is that if you get the clutter out of your mind first thing in the morning, you’ll be freer and more able to do creative things afterwards.
Morning pages and me
My history with morning pages: I tried doing them for the first time a couple of years ago; I think I persisted for about two weeks before I gave up. It just felt like too much of a hassle. Now, since 13 March, I’ve been doing morning pages again. Every morning.
An important point here: I am not a morning person. Specifically, not an early-morning person. If it was up to me, I’d stay up till 1 or 2am and get up around 9 or 10am. Sadly, this isn’t possible five days a week due to work. I have to get up between 7 and 7.30am on weekdays, which I know isn’t all that early for early birds, but for me? Uuugh. Every time the alarm rings, I’m grumpy and sleepy. Yeah, so if I went to sleep early enough I might not have this problem. But my energy tends to increase towards the evening, so going to sleep early is troublesome.
When I started doing morning pages again almost two and a half weeks ago, I was incredibly dubious at first. It takes me about 15 minutes to write three pages in my current diary (a bit bigger than A5 in size). That means 15 extra minutes to incorporate into my morning routine. Now, I’m slow in the mornings. I thought morning pages would create extra pain and grumpiness.
Sometimes they do. Sometimes my only wish on weekday mornings is to crawl back into bed for 15 more minutes. But I’ve persisted so far, because you can’t really tell if a new habit is working based on a couple of weeks.
I’ve been quite successful at incorporating morning pages into my routine. It’s more pleasant on weekends of course, since I usually get to sleep as long as I like then. I’ll get up, do some short exercises to get my chronic-pain back/neck to be less cranky, and then I’ll do my morning pages. I try not to let myself wake up too much before writing them (usually not a problem!), so that they’d be as natural, as stream-of-consciousness as possible. They’re not always three pages. If I’m in a hurry, they might be two, or even just one. Mostly I’ve kept to three, though.
What goes in them? Rambling. I often wake up from a dream, so dream descriptions abound. I may write about what I need to do that day, or about what I’ve done the day before. Mundane things. I usually start with grumbling about how tired I am and how and where my body aches.
But what’s also found its way into my morning pages are ramblings about weightier stuff like
– writing: what I want to work on, how I should go about it
– my future: pondering PhD things, worrying, planning.
Stuff that’s important to think about, stuff that I don’t often have time to properly think about. So, even considering how little a time I’ve been doing them, I’d say that morning pages have the potential to bring up things from the subconscious that I might not concentrate on otherwise. And it’s good to bring those things up. It means I either a) think about them more, if they’re important things that require pondering, or b) let them go, if they’re just small things that bother me.
I don’t think morning pages will solve all my problems. Haha, if only. But I’ve been greatly surprised by how even for a night owl like me, it’s not necessarily an impossibility to do them. Even a week ago I was grumbling about doing them, but now I feel more positive. I’ll keep writing them at least till the pages run out in my current diary, then I’ll see how I feel. I’d sort of like to try another experiment with “evening pages”, written just before going to bed, which would be more of a traditional diary-type thing, with analysis of the past day and so on. We’ll see about that.
Strangely, it seems that morning pages are actually doable. I’ve yet to find any profound spiritual enlightenment, but I’ll keep doing this for the time being and see if I come up with brilliant solutions to all my problems with the help of my morning pages. Even if I don’t, this may be a routine I want to keep. We’ll see.