I’ve heard about The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron many, many years ago, and never actually paid attention to it. Didn’t do any research about it, didn’t bother to ask people about it, or even sitting down at a library to take a look at it. I guess the fact that sounded so mainstream in my creative surroundings made it unappealing and even too hipster for me to try (hypocrisy of course, as I’m a sucker for mainstream).
2020, quarantine came by and a need for structure. A need for something new kicked in and I saw all over my social media circles the book I had unconsciously avoided for 5 or 6 years. I had already downloaded a pdf copy of the book and couldn’t connect (you see, I kinda like touching things/books/people) so I went to my local bookshop and ordered the physical edition. Best decision ever.
The Bible for Creatives
The book has sort of become my bible for creativity and I add it to the altar (well I don’t have an altar but if I had I would certainly display it there) right next to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Only that this book would be the first on the line.
So I’m not really here to talk about The Artist’s Way itself. If you’re curious, I’d totally recommend to search for some online reviews or have a blind date with it and buy it. I’m here to talk about a basic practice that the book proposes: the morning pages.
The Morning Pages
What are the morning pages? Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.Julia Cameron
So it’s basically filling three pages with thoughts that come to your mind. According to Julia Cameron, the morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery. All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity. She also talks about them being a non negotiable part of the creative recovery, which means you either do them or do them, and they help out to make us believe that we don’t always need to be in the mood to write, we just have to write.
The Morning Pages Ritual
I’ve been doing the pages for a month now. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster and a change of habits, as I had to experiment to find my way to fit them on my routine. I’ve tried waking up early and sitting straight away to write them. I’ve tried waking up earlier, around 6 a.m, writing them, and going back to sleep. And now I’ve kinda found my routine: they are my midmorning pages, I write them after my morning workout and breakfast.
The magic of the pages relies a lot on the ritual: I’m eager to write them because I have the perfect ritual to set the mood: sometimes in silence, sometimes with meditation music, I change the position of my kitchen table next to the window, bring along my notebook and the book, light a candle and surrounded by my plants, I begin my writing practice.
The writing part
Morning pages are for me a relaxed writing where I don’t even think about the spelling, how many times I repeat words or if I just write “oh God I’m so hungry this sucks wanna eat”. Morning pages are like hanging out at home in your sweatpants: chill, comfortable and liberating.
Nobody reads your morning pages, not even yourself. That’s the whole amazing process! I’ve filled almost two notebooks and I have no idea of what they are about; I do not read my pages, at least for now. They might contain bits and bobs of enlightenment however, most of it feels like some sort of thing that won’t let me keep going if I think about it. You know, reading your morning pages is more or less like looking for good bites on the trash. They are probably there although you don’t really do that.
So I usually buy these A4 notebooks at the supermarket and grab any pen I find. That’s the whole set up; like the pages, you shouldn’t give it much of a thought.
To sum things up, I don’t really know why I do the morning pages or if I will keep up the practice after finishing the book. At the moment they are this kind of exercise that helps me declutter my head from thoughts that otherwise would take space up from my mind. Of course, there are days I love them and days I hate them, particularly on the 3rd pages where I no longer feel I want to keep writing. Anyhow, I can’t really say how good they are, how much they’ve changed me, or anything of the sort. Right now, I’m still writing, still in the process of experimenting with them and enjoying it.