Each day, I make some time to write three pages of stream of consciousness thoughts, by hand, in a little pocket notebook. It's rarely anything good or profound, most of the time it's barely legible or coherent at all. There's a lot of waffling about who in my family is sick at the moment, stationery, imposter feelings, "I should..." and "I want...". For me they are morning pages in the same sense as morning sickness, which is to say that it's often not in the morning at all.
This daily practice has been popularised by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way, which I intensely disliked reading but did admittedly get a lot out of. Technically the Morning Pages is one tool to be used across the 12 week program, which I have read but not done, but it seems to be one that has had much further reach outside readers of the book.
I find that often I have thoughts that bounce around in my head uselessly, taking up space and creating a buzz of low key distraction. Writing them down sometimes helps me feel somewhat resolved, like it’s made it more real to be out in the physical world, even if I’m the only one to see it.
I’ve tried Morning Pages a few times before, with varying degrees of success. Here are a few things that I think are helping me stay the course (so far) this time:
- A small notebook (currently a Field Notes). I didn’t see any specifics of what size the 3 pages should be, so I’m rolling with pocket sized.
- An enjoyable writing experience. My previous failed attempts were with random pens on random paper, but I’ve had more success using a nice fountain pen (currently a Lamy Safari) in a notebook with nice paper which seems to add more ceremony to the whole thing and is just a pleasure to use.
- Remembering that done is better than perfect. Sometimes I only get through 2 pages for the day, sometimes I manage 3 pages only over a few sittings. I’m sure I’ll have to miss days entirely. Like any habit, I’ll keep trying.
- Not worrying about niceties like handwriting, spelling, paragraphs or even coherent thoughts. This is supposed to be stream of consciousness writing, so it’s natural that it will bounce all over the place and there is no reason to edit it.
It's still early days for me at this time of writing, but so far I'm feeling the value in this practice even if I'm not doing it 100% as intended.