Saturday, September 11, 2010
Morning Pages: Unexpected Therapy
For about a month, I have been writing what Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, calls Morning Pages. Three pages of long hand written first thing in the morning. The point of these pages is not to create art. In fact, Julia says not to show anyone what you have written. Put them in a manila envelope and bury them in a drawer, if you must. The point is to clear your head of all the muck and the concerns of the world that have been piling up, building layers in your mind.
Three pages of whatever crosses your mind….
At first, I felt like writing three pages of what seemed like senseless crap was a pointless endeavor. And then I began to discover that in writing the morning pages, I was learning things about myself that I would not have known if I had not written them. I began finding encouragement as I moved my hand continuously across the page. Sometimes it would take until page two or three before I felt like God was trying to say something to me, an answer breaking through the previously scrawled worries and confusion. I would write down those words.
And then I would put the pages in a folder, in my drawer and carry on with my day, feeling lighter, happier, more focused and hopeful then I did when I had just woken up. Sometimes when I do my morning writing, I talk about my plans for the day, what I want to accomplish, and then (most of the time) I do it, as if writing about it first is what I needed to actually know what I needed to do in the first place.
The morning pages have provided a way to tap into my intuition as well. Sometimes I will be in this mood that I can’t get out of or I will have this strange feeling that borders on foreboding or confliction. If I write about it, I usually get to the bottom of that feeling and what it means, what it is trying to tell me.
The best thing about writing these daily pages is that it refocuses my thoughts and my attitude so that instead of worrying over the small details of life or my failures or past actions that I am ashamed of, I can clear that out of my head so that I am concentrating on becoming a better person.
Here are some excerpts from The Artist’s Way:
“Morning pages are nonnegotiable. Never skip or skimp on morning pages. Your mood doesn’t matter. The rotten things your sensor says doesn’t matter. We have this idea we need to be in the mood to write. We don’t.
Morning pages will teach you that your mood doesn’t really matter. Some of the best creative work gets done on the days when you feel that everything you’re doing is just plain junk. The morning pages will teach you to stop judging and just let yourself write. So what if you’re tired, crabby, distracted, stressed? Your artist is a child, and it needs to be fed…
When people ask, “Why do we write morning pages?” I joke, “To get to the other side.” They think I am kidding, but I’m not. Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods. Above all, they get us beyond our Censor. Beyond the reach of the Censor’s babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own.” (12)