On weekdays, when I have to get up earlier than I like (because apparently my school district thinks teenagers will perform well on five hours of sleep), I have this thing that I look forward to. Once my husband has left to take our girls to school, I settle down on the sofa and pull out my Morning Pages journal. I put the date at the top of the page and start writing. Whatever pops into my head. It could be “I’m so sleepy” or “Keep writing” or it could be a discussion with myself on how to market my business or how to better (meaning “faster”) clean my house or a recounting of a weird dream. It doesn’t exactly matter. The point is to spend about 30 minutes writing three pages every day.
This comes from one of my favorite books, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Once you’ve known me for a bit it’s likely I will mention Morning Pages, because the habit is so ingrained and I love how it has changed my life. The Artist’s Way is a 12-week guide to discovering your creativity. There are twelve chapters, with questions and assignments at the end of each. You are expected to take yourself on an Artist’s Date every week (that’s some kind of outing, alone, that is purely for your pleasure) and do Morning Pages every day.
The Artist’s Way is not easy to do. I failed to complete it twice before I finally made it all the way through the whole book, and I’ve done the full program a second time as part of a group. And it has opened me up in ways I never could have predicted. I have a hard time putting this into words, but basically it forces you to spend time with yourself. Which sounds a little ridiculous. We are with ourselves all the time, right? But this is in a way that requires you to listen to yourself deeply. No one is allowed to read your Morning Pages. In fact, I rarely go back over them myself (although I have the past 17 journals saved on a bookshelf, in case I ever become famous and the world needs to know how my brain works). So when you know you can write freely—and you have to fill up three pages—you find yourself being brutally honest. With and about yourself.
The joy is in the discoveries. I not only write about the past, but I like to write about the future. Julia talks about letting the universe know what you want. One morning I wrote about how I would love to see Stevie Wonder in concert. (Aside: Stevie Wonder has been my boyfriend since high school and I will fight you over this.) Anyhoo, I’ve never been to a concert of his and wrote about how cool that would be someday. Within minutes, I turned on the radio and heard an ad for a Stevie Wonder concert in Little Rock. Dude. I manifested that. Ultimately I chose not to go (the timing conflicted with something else) but the idea that I can be clear about what I want is intoxicating.
Here’s another. A friend/business coach asked me to think about how much money I’d like to make each year, then multiply that by ten and then figure out how to do it. Crazy, right? But I’m up for a challenge, so I started writing about what my business would look like, in great detail. And this thing led to that thing and six months later I was opening up a portrait studio outside of my home and moving toward that money goal. This is a true story. I wrote something down and now I get to turn the key in the door of my studio and feel that rush of excitement (I made this!) any day I want.
Morning Pages are not for everyone. It’s a commitment (some days I don’t feel like it or have to get going early or I’m on vacation, etc.) and it you have to be willing to listen to everything, not just the good stuff. I just wrote about an experience that I found to be taxing but also worthwhile, but other people I care about found it difficult and disappointing. I hadn’t anticipated their perspectives and the pages were a good place where I could explore that. We all got something different out of the experience and it will make me more attentive to that in the future. Sometimes I’m just an ass. I let myself get too tired or hungry and I say something stupid or thoughtless. Because I’ve trained myself to look for truth, I can realize my faults a bit more quickly and make amends. This is often hard, but necessary. Morning Pages are a place for truth.
Now, you still have to do the work. You can’t write “open a portrait studio” and then stay on the couch and expect it to just happen. But these pages do act as guides for me. They are a place to consolidate thoughts and make mistakes and try things out. They have captured all my emotions: good and not-so-flattering. They have transformed me into the person I am, and will continue to transform me, each morning.
Is The Artist’s Way something you would be interested in? Leave a comment below and I’ll send one lucky winner a copy of the book and a comp book for Morning Pages. I’ll pick the winner March 14, 2019.