Morning pages were a revelation to me when I was working on my BA in Creative Writing (thank you, Open University – you really are the second chance for so many people). I’d never thought that the time of day would make such a difference to the quality of my ideas and the way in which I engaged with the writing process. As a creative, this might be something useful for you to explore in your own practice, whether you’re a writer, artist, musician, crafter, actor or producer. Think about how you could use Morning Pages to increase the flow and inventiveness of your work.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (1992), came up with the idea of morning pages as part of her own writing journey. She describes the technique as a ‘bedrock tool of creative discovery’ and the process is so simple that I still wonder why I didn’t find it for myself. Isn’t that the way with all the best ideas? Especially for writers: take what’s right in front of you and help others to see it with fresh eyes. Cameron tell us that:
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.
Do you feel like being provoked and synchronised all in one writing exercise? Then find yourself a notebook, a beautiful one (you know you’ve got plenty hidden away that you haven’t dared to sully yet), and set yourself the intention of writing the moment you wake up.
To stop myself from finding excuses, I make sure I have a glass of water or even a flask of hot water by my bedside so that I can hydrate as I write. Sounds a bit new-age but if I don’t have a drink I’ll convince myself to go to the kitchen before I start writing and that seems to break the spell for me. And I set myself one target – just write. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to be clever, it just has to tumble out of clean brain, the one that sleep and dreams have scrubbed to a pleasing shine.
I also set my alarm clock an hour earlier than I need to get up so that I can do this practice without worrying it will intrude into my day. Has that given you heart palpitations? It did for me as well. But now that I’m in the rhythm of waking at 5am, summer and winter, it has given me more energy as well as more words on the page. Try it and let me know how you get on.
What do I do with all this writing? Well, sometimes it’s a sketch or a map that helps me plan a scene, sometimes it’s a flash fiction in the making, sometimes it’s a delicious haiku that wants to be crafted. I have notebooks full of ideas now and I make a point of going through them regularly to pull out whatever is useful. To my surprise, pretty much everything has potential to become a workable piece. This blog is one such idea that appeared in my Morning Pages from a few words and a doodle of a flower (don’t ask!).
So, set that alarm, find your notebook and favourite pencils, pour that glass of water and settle down for a good sleep – tomorrow morning will be full of new ideas.