I first learned about Morning Pages four years ago, when my fiction writing started to feel stressful, when I was getting ready to go to grad school, when I was feeling torn between a creative and professional life. The Morning Pages are part of Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way – a longer plan for seeking creativity of all types. I’ve never fully committed to the plan, but the pages… they keep resurfacing.
Morning Pages are simple – wake up every morning and write three pages, longhand. You write whatever you want – the exercise is used to both foster creative discipline as well as clear your mental slate for more productive work. A journal with no expectations, no requirements except that you keep writing, stream of conscious-like, until the pages are full.
I’m not always great at writing in the morning – I take a long time to wake up, I get up late. I’m also excellent at crafting little excuses and lies – I never write three pages, for instance, always two, because my paper is narrow-ruled and my handwriting small. I’m also not convinced of their usefulness. Sometimes, I think that spending time on my inner neuroses doesn’t “clear the deck” – it just makes me more neurotic. So I start censoring my pages, which is counter-intuitive to the whole project, and then I start to question the exercise altogether.
But despite all that imperfection, I keep coming back. I started again last week because with all my road trips and vacations and sleeping in and decisions and the boy home on summer vacation, I felt like I lost myself. When I forget what my own voice sounds like, that’s when I want those pages, whether they are in the morning or at 5 p.m., whether I am neurotic or level-headed,
whether I am living like an artist or not.