Welcome to the brand new version of RhiannonLaurie.com! I didn’t want our new blog to be lonely or empty, so I’m including some of the best posts from before. This one was originally published on Jan. 30, 2011.
Are a thing from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which as I’ve mentioned saved my life once upon a time.
I’ve been doing them more or less regularly for four years now. And they make the world a whole lot better. So maybe you’d like to do some too.
Before we start
I really believe in adapting things so they work for you, doing what you want, and generally not being told or telling other people what to do if we can manage to avoid it.
So if you want to take the essence of morning pages as you see them and change them up to suit yourself, then definitely do so.
For me, morning pages are so effective because they are a firm structure. That’s how I’m going to present them – as rules. You may want to try them as they stand first, since their firmness and exactness is one of the things that make them so powerful, but ultimately it is your life and your choice. Of course.
First Thing in the Morning!
You do them as soon as you get up each morning. Actually, I do them after yoga which is after I first get up. But the idea is to get to them as fresh as you can, with everything you’re bringing with you out of sleep and to your day. By “everything” I mean exhaustion, confusion, worries, anxieties, hope, excitement, energy, “nothing” etc.
They take between 15 and 40 minutes, so this does require some planning. And experimenting. But they are your space, so putting them very first place in the day doesn’t interfere with life as much as you think it would.
And you can write three pages whining about having to get up early to whine, if you’d like.
Stream-of-Consciousness or “sound as bad as you’d like”
You write the first thing that comes to your mind, as fast as you can. Running with your hand to catch up to your thoughts or pushing your thoughts forward with a still-moving hand when you want to think you’re not thinking.
What I mean is that your hand never stops. And if you can’t think of anything to write, then you write “I can’t think of anything to write” for as many sentences as you’d like. You do not stop to contemplate, to cross out, to respell, or to make it sound prettier. You just write it.
You also don’t judge it. If you start to judge it, write down the judgments. “And I sound stupid and I feel stupid for calling myself stupid but the hairdresser was mean and next Tuesday I have to…”
Three Pages! Three entire pages!
And you do that for three pages. They can be blank pages (you’ll tend to write faster), or lined pages. They can be loose-leaf or in a notebook.
If they are in a notebook, they should have their own (not mixed in with a journal). The notebook should not be small or hard to turn. Not one of those cute little diaries which you have to hold open. 8 by 11 1/2 paper at least. And you need a pen or pencil which flows easily. Because you won’t be stopping. Not for three pages.
If you really want a head trip, just start writing all the things you dislike!
When I do this I can almost feel the negativity leaving me. I’m very contrary (my ex calls me recalcitrant, though I believe he says it with love) so the more I write nasty things, the more my mind is saying “hey, that’s not quite true…” and I’m left with a mind full of hope and a page I won’t look at again.
Do it every day.
Do it every day. Every day. Really. (This is the most important part).
This is one of those things that will carry you if you carry it. If you commit to showing up at the page every day, then the page will carry you. It will carry you through euphoria and the doldrums, through hatred and contentment. The page will carry you through all your moods and fears and beyond to the other side. But you have to commit to it.
I don’t want to be guiltifying, but I know how beautiful this can be if you really commit, and I know how many monsters are going to show up and try to get you off track, so I want to be clear. Morning pages are every day. Negotiate if you’d like but don’t make exceptions. No huge dramatic guilt trips or apologies. Just carry the page so that the page will carry you.
Not to be Re-read. For your eyes only!
Julia Cameron suggests you don’t reread them until the eighth week of the Artist’s Way program, by which point you will have gained the strength for it. If I were going to redo the program for the forth time, I might read some of mine, but for now I haven’t reread any for about a year.
When I’m going to reread any of my writing, but especially writing that is stream-of-conscious and raw (or sometimes fails to be and hits boring instead), I wait until I’m feeling extremely… charitable. When I feel like I totally get my past selves and love them anyway.
When I read my journals in a less charitable mood it becomes a self-flaying fest. I don’t like to host those. So if you are just starting morning pages, don’t even think of reading them for a few months.
And they do not get shown to significant others or friends. Ever. At all. Burn them if you can’t trust yourself on that one.
All this creates (hopefully) a container
What you’re creating with morning pages is a container. And yes, you have to do the work of creating and holding it. But the weight it puts on you is so much less than the weight it takes off for you.
If you follow “the rules” for morning pages, you build a really tight container. And it will hold all of your anger, fear, hopes, dreams, and worries so that you don’t have to. This is a container that gets underneath your daily grime to introduce you to yourself. It’s crazy powerful. But only if you build it right and commit to holding it.
Thoughts? Monsters? Opinions? Experiences?
If you’re feeling at all triggered by the directiveness of all of that and don’t feel like having a conversation with your monsters about it, then let this be something you come back to some other time, or never. You’re a great person whether you do morning pages or not.
Love to all of you!