Morning Pages

Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

Artists, writers, journalers, all of us, we have heard of Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages routine from her book The Artist’s Way.

Morning pages, three pages of hand-written stream of consciousness brain dump every morning first thing is how Julia Cameron has taught us to do them.

I remember for years writing, some days for over an hour, well over the ‘mandatory’ three page limit, because I had so much I needed to get out. I remember chatting with a friend about how she had done the same thing. About how we were both so tired of writing morning pages when it seemed as though we kept writing about the same things, day after day after week after month after year…and nothing was changing. So we would stop or do something else or whatever because the ‘official’ morning pages no longer felt authentic and they were no longer helpful to either of us.

I cannot tell you how many journaling books I have read over the years, or how many of those books I currently own. I cannot tell you how many classes, or classes related to journaling I have taken over the years. I have forgotten more than I remember at this point. Last year, or the year before, I took a Journal Therapy course…and although I did learn a great deal, I felt as if this was merely a foot in the door and I had so much more yet to learn. so, I took other classes, not based on journaling, but based around other topics that keeping a journal could be or was recommended. I found different and better books on journaling that led me forward in a much clearer and more workable manner. Although I will admit I still have a lot more to learn. I always will. But I try to share what I learn as I go along.

I no longer write morning pages, nor do I ever, at least at this moment, see myself going back to morning pages again. Not that I don’t allow myself stream of consciousness writing–or brain dumping. I don’t listen to the three page ‘rule’.

Thanks to bits and pieces that I learned from reading Alyss Thomas MSc’s book The Journal Writer’s Companion, I have a new system.

I chose a journal that is larger than my typical A5 bullet journal notebooks. I felt I needed more space to write than an A5 could give me. I chose an A4 size. I bought a three-pack of soft cover (pleather-type covering) journals that come with an index and page numbers on every page already.

I also name every one of my journals now when I begin to use them, so I think this has helped me when I show up to write in my journal.

What I do is I write the date at the beginning of the entry. I do not start every entry on its own page. After the last entry, I skip a line or two, write the date and underline it so I can see it is a new entry and then I begin to write. I always have a question in mind when I come to my journal these days. Tonight will probably be the first time the question ill be: ‘What question do I need to ask here tonight?’

If you are doing this exercise, you can ask yourself/your journal something long the lines of: ‘What do I need to know right now?’ or ‘What do I need to hear right now?’ or ‘What can make me feel xyz right now?’ Something along those lines. Whatever it takes to start you writing.

As I write, other questions often come up and I explore those questions. Emotions come up and so I explore those emotions. Ideas come up and I explore those ideas. I try to keep asking myself questions for as long as i feel i need to do so.

How long do you write? Well, you can write for ten minutes, twenty minutes, an hour. Whatever works best for you. I usually write between twenty and thirty minutes typically.

How many pages do you write? That too is up to you. I have written morning pages for so long if i don’t rite at least three pages, I don’t feel right about things. Once I reach the end of the third page, that worry or ‘need’ to write out three pages vanishes and if I need to continue I do, without qualm.

When should you write? Whenever it feels right to you. Whenever you can set aside the time to write, do it.

Anything else? I may or may not light a candle, and/or incense. I may or may not listen to meditative music. I do, however, try to knit for at least five minutes, usually more, before I pick up my pen because knitting helps me relax my brain and my body.

You do whatever you feel called to do in this situation.

Now, the thing that helps me the most is…the index. I write down the page number/s and I list, quickly, very briefly, the topics I wrote about, so I can find them again afterwards. For years, I mean YEARS, I wrote but could never figure out for sure where I wrote this or that idea or list or whatever. It took me months of using a bujo before I understood the use of an index there…and now my index is indispensable to me.

Now, I do not get very detailed. House plan. Patreon. Artwork. Homeschool. Quick and succinct. Nothing more.

The index, that one small addition, is amazing and beyond useful for me.

Questions? Comments? Please leave them below.