My Morning Pages

“Writing is a form of personal freedom.  It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us.  In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”  Don Delillo, American Novelist 1926 -

Do you find that your mind wanders in all directions?  I start out to read a blog, that puts me on a certain trail, from there I go to another trail and on and on it goes.  Several hours pass and I have done nothing except follow these bloggers, their thoughts and mine. This is really stream of consciousness and reminded me of a task I used to set all of my Life Coaching clients.

The Artist's Way book

My well-thumbed copy

I discovered this process when reading and following Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way – it is now also an online course.  She calls it Morning Pages – a stream of consciousness writing.

I started to write my Morning Pages shortly after my husband died.  It was cathartic.  I could write down all the hurts, anger and disappointments and get them out of my system rather than laying them as a burden on friends or family.

Even before I started using this process a friend of mine told me how she wrote out all her frustrations with her husband who having retired, wanted only to play golf and spend time mainly with his male friends.  She got the angst and anger out of her system onto the pages.  By doing so she rid herself of the frustrations and anger without any major rows with her husband.  And in the process she discovered that what she really wanted to do with her life was run a bed and breakfast operation.  She now does that very successfully.

So with this example in front of me I took the idea on board and used it to determine where I was headed and if I wanted to go there.

Pen and notebook

As it worked for me I then, with some adaptations to reflect that my clients weren’t necessarily artists, I introduced it into my Life Coaching practice.  Of course, I gave credit to Julia Cameron and I encouraged my clients to either purchase a copy of the book or at least borrow a copy from the local library.

My clients were encouraged to start writing three pages by hand, each day when they first awoke.  Before the thoughts and interruptions of the day intruded.  All the minor (and perhaps some of the major) irritants that flow through our days can be written out in the Morning Pages – get them onto the page and out of the mind.

Waking up

Photo -Agnieszka Pastuszak - Maksim | Dreamstime.com

My clients were told that this was non-negotiable.  The pages had to be hand written every day.  Research has shown that hand-writing stimulates a bunch of cells at the base of the brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS acts as a filter for everything your brain needs to process, giving more importance to the stuff that you’re actively focusing on at the moment—the physical act of writing brings it to the forefront.  Author Henriette Anne Klauser who wrote Write It Down, Make It Happen, says that “Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’

They were told to “Ignore your inner censor who is very quick to point out that there are other things you could be doing.  Or who says you are not doing these pages correctly.  Get out of bed and begin your Morning Pages.  Just keep your hand moving across the page.  Three pages of whatever comes into your mind.  If you can’t think of anything to write then write that “I can’t think of anything to write”.  You could fill all three pages with this one sentence, but it is likely that in the process of writing this several times other things will pop into your head.”

I also recommended that they didn’t go back and reread what they had written.  Just write.  Why put it back into your head?  And if it was written several weeks ago it has no doubt been dealt with by now.

Stream of consciousness writing is a technique to achieve release.   Our minds have the capacity to think about all our problems and feelings but our minds can become clouded if there is too much information or if one occurrence is overpowering.  We can’t think clearly and the problem takes on a life of its own.

Jennifer Blanchard experimented with Morning Pages and she wrote a blog about it .  Why don’t you give it a try.  It could be quite liberating whether you consider yourself an artist or not.  In fact, just writing your blog each day makes you an artist.

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”  John Jakes, American author 1932 -

And for no reason other than I like it -

“My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end.  Nothing is easier than fault finding.  All it will do is discolor my personality so that none will want to associate with me.  That was my old life.  No more.”  Og Mandino, American author 1923-1996 author of The Greatest Salesman in the World.


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15 thoughts on “My Morning Pages

  1. I read this awhile back, and wrote morning pages faithfully for quite some time. I keep thinking I need to start again, even bought a book to write them in. Thanks for the nudge to press on and make the time for it.

  2. Well I was very diligent and particularly when I had clients who were doing this. But alas, I have slipped back and it was because I was thinking I should start again that I wrote the post.

  3. I recently got my MA – Certified Addiction Professional (CAP)degree. Can you rec some titles, life coaching re addiction, please. I am a little old to start a practice but may do some part time or volunteer from time to time.

  4. I have this book and used to do my morning pages pretty faithfully. Now it seems I go straight to trying to write my blog each morning instead of the morning pages because I tell myself I don’t have time for both. I’m running out of blog ideas, though, so maybe I need to go back to Morning Pages. Thanks for the reminder, Judith.

    • Susan I am sure you will never run out of ideas.
      Since writing the blog I have started Morning Pages again and hopefully, this will give me ideas for my blog.
      By the way, I like your daughter’s blog. Obviously a very clever and bright family.
      Judith

      • What a sweet thing to say about our family. My youngest son writes, too, and is well published, but you wouldn’t be able to understand his writing unless you were a fellow neurogeneticist. LOL! I try to read his articles when I can’t sleep. After just a few minutes, I’m out like a light.

  5. Back in the day when The Artist Way came out, I did that early morning writing and then life happened… I go back to it from time to time as it does help the process… But being a night owl doesn’t always help. Thanks for a beautiful refresher on this subject…
    It’s been a hectic week and I’m now catching up with everyone.
    Happy weekend to you! :-)
    Elizabeth

    • Have some time to yourself this weekend. It’s very cold here so I am hunkering down only out for a short walk with the dog and a very brief visit to my daughter.:)
      Judith

  6. I bought the book (‘The Artist’s Way’) years ago, but have yet to sit down, read it, and really get into it. I’ve started a few times, never getting beyond the first week. I may give it a try again. Perhaps I’m ready for it now.

    Thank you for the reminder. :)

    • It sits beside my bed and occasionally I flip through the book. But it’s the Morning Pages that have stayed with me. Don’t do them everyday but in fits and starts.
      Thanks for the comment.

  7. Pingback: Disturbances that provoke us... | Studio 13

  8. Pingback: Disturbances that provoke us… | 9 Months In ~ 9 Months Out

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