For the past few months, I’ve been back to doing my morning pages. For those of you familiar with Julia Cameron’s incredible book The Artist’s Way, you’re already familiar with the concept. You might also use it as part of your creativity toolbox. [Here’s an interview she did where she spoke about morning pages and creativity]
For those of you who don’t know the concept, it’s simple. When you get up in the morning, before starting your day, grab a notebook and begin free writing. Don’t edit your thoughts. Do not try to make sense of the words. Just get it out. Anything and everything that is in your head..spill it onto the page and release it. As crazy as it sounds, it is amazing how productive your days can be when you get into the practice of dumping all the monkey mind stuff rattling around in your head.
The first week of practice this my journal entries looked like this:
“I have no idea what to write and this feels so stupid and not worth my time and effort however I’ve read Julia Cameron’s book and I know it is fabulous and was so very helpful to me when I first did the program in 2000. It helped me define myself as an artist and it gave me so many personal insights. Oh, damn today is the day I have to get my car into the shop. I hate that. Damn fuel pump recall, why did that have to happen? I need my car to run about a million errands today. This means that I won’t be able to finish the canvas I’m working on. Just about done…”
I will NOT bore you with any more details, but I want to share exactly what I’m talking about. Monkey Mind — rambling thoughts that take up space and effort with no real purpose. We all have it, some more than others depending on the length of our to-do list.
However, like any good practice, morning pages can also offer some incredible insight and lead to artistic ah-ha moments! Also, as I’ve found myself doing this, my mind rambles much less throughout my day. It’s easier to get into my studio and get to work, and it’s easier to break away for my domestic responsibilities.
A couple of weeks ago I was feeling melancholy and having a few introspective days. Here’s a morning pages entry. Mind you, it still took a few paragraphs of rambling to finally hit upon this:
I find it fascinating the way the Universe works. 2016 is a year of changes. Endings of many things both career and personal. With endings, though, comes New Beginnings. The space between the ending and the new beginning is the Void. The Void feels a little shaky, like walking on cobble stones created by masons centuries ago where you’re not completely certain how to place your feet so the ground won’t shift. But it is also a primordial soup of creativity and possibility. It’s a time when you can intentionally make every single choice of what to add to this next pot of soup. It’s a time to look at life and tell yourself…hmmmm I’m DONE with that, but I want MORE of this. It’s not about reaching for anything in particular. It’s about getting clarity on the essence of who you are and how you wish to spend your days.
I’m not sure what I will do with this paragraph yet, or even if I will do anything with it. For now I circled it a dozen times with a fine point Sharpie marker with a note to revisit at a later date. My journalism mentor, an incredible editor who won a Pulitzer for her reporting on the early days of AIDs, calls this “gathering string.” It’s a concept she introduced to me in my 20s that I took to heart and have been doing ever since in my creative work.
No great wrap up of this post. Just wanted to share with you a snippet of my life. I’m curious though, have you ever done morning pages? What are your thoughts on making this a practice?