I’ve been doing morning pages (as per The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron) for the month of May and have found that I’ve been a lot more grounded in myself day to day. My focus and general ability to be present has noticeably increased. Something about starting the day by laying out all the crap in my head and clearing it away is really, really orienting.
Sitting down to write without a “for” in mind – just doing it, is challenging. It’s meant to be. The purpose is to not intend to do anything at all with the morning pages, and do it anyway. Cameron calls morning pages a form of meditation, saying “just as we cannot repeat a meditation, we do not need to review our Morning Pages … I believe the pages render us present in our life. Obsessing over our pages renders us self-centered– so I believe in “write them and let them go.”
I’m glad I didn’t read this before I’d started doing morning pages. If I had, I probably would have forbidden myself to re-read any of them. But since I didn’t, (when I started doing morning pages the only work of Cameron’s I’d read was The Artist’s Way, and there actually is one particular part, in the exercises at the end of one “week,” where she actually does suggest going over them to gain clarity), I actually developed a loose practice of returning to my pages a few days after writing, and skimming them. (So, not obsessing. Skimming.) And, in my uninformed rule-breaking, I actually gained a lot.
From my morning pages “takeaways” I started a running list of things I want to happen, things I want money for, ideas for pieces I want to write (really want to write, not “should” write). Helpful mantras jumped out at me. Reading the pages over shows me what my intentions really are. Writing the morning pages helps me be present, but returning to them provides me with direction.
Is this self-centered? “Doing it wrong?” Again, if I’d known Cameron called this self-centered, I probably wouldn’t have done it, but I’m glad I did. Now I have a list of solid intentions for money and clearer writing goals. Without making those lists, I’d maybe be walking around a little more preoccupied and a little less organized than I am now. So, is that so bad?
Cameron might say no – she gets where I’m coming from with that idea, mentioning on her blog, “I saved my Morning Pages for many years, saying “If I ever write a memoir, I’ll need them.” However, when I did write a memoir– Floor Sample– I found that I didn’t consult the Morning Pages. My memories were vivid, probably because I had written Morning Pages.”
Fair enough. My dilligent list-making and intention-setting isn’t what morning pages aims to help with. They’re about simply creating clarity – and they do that. But I have a hard time seeing them as a form of meditation. It seems to that they present a pretty good opportunity for inner work, which is important do to in order to “get out of your own way” So, I don’t think it’s self-centered to return to them.
When I think of morning pages and meditation as separate activities with separate goals, morning pages can become a richer, more interesting journaling practice. Together, these two practices would make a winning team for a writer.
Morning pages writers – do you return to your pages after you’ve done yours for the day?