Journaling, Part Four: Morning Pages
Yesterday, in Part Three* of my series on journaling, I wrote about four types of journal writing that I find useful. There are an infinite number of techniques you can use for effective journaling, and I may well write about others in the future. But for now, I've chosen to discuss the ones I use most often and find most beneficial.
Morning Pages. First off, we have Morning Pages, developed and popularized by Julia Cameron in her seminal book, The Artist's Way. You've probably read about or heard of Morning Pages, or MPs, as I like to call them, one way or another. Morning Pages are simple–you get up, head to your journal, and write three pages, no more, no less.
Your first reaction to this idea may be similar to mine–horror at the idea that you're supposed to get up and write first thing. I think this springs from the notion that writing is hard, and it takes thought, and if your brain is not yet awake you won't be able to think and thus write.
But that is also the point–that you bypass the conscious, critical brain and just let the words flow onto the page. This is good for a number of reasons:
1. Because it gets you used to just letting the words rip. Getting into the flow of putting words on the page is excellent training for writers. And, like any other profession, writers need to train. The way the writing process works is this: first you glump all the words out onto the page in one glorious brain dump. Then you rewrite. And rewrite again. And rewrite again. And…well, you get the idea. But if you are hesitant and shy with your words, you'll never get the wonder of rough draft onto the page and thus never have anything to work with. So, you can consider Morning Pages to be part of your training.
2. Because it familiarizes you with your subconscious. And what a trip that is. By writing Morning Pages, you will learn all kinds of things about yourself, perhaps that what you really want to do is study classical music or kayak around the world. Or whatever. Why is this important? Because, here's the deal: the number one, most important thing for a writer is to be yourself on the page. That's what voice is about, people. But being yourself on the page is nearly impossible is you don't know yourself. So write MPs. You may astound yourself with your brilliance. And even if you don't, you are engaging in a valuable activity, in and of itself.
3. Because fascinating trends emerge when you aren't looking. You know how John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans?" So too with MPs. It may never have occurred to you that kayaking was something you wanted to do, until you find yourself writing about being on water–again. You may never have thought you wanted to write poetry–until it begins to emerge in your MPs. And so on and so forth.
4. Because MPs allow ideas to pop like crazy. I've written outlines for whole novels while scribbling MPs and groggily reaching for my coffee cup. I've had ideas for blog posts, characters, scenes in projects I'm working on, you name it. Things emerge when you are half asleep and your conscious mind is not yet engaged.
So give them a try. The rules for MPs are very similar to the rules for free writing. Just write, don't worry about sentence structure, grammar, or whether you are making sense. Just write, write, write. Three pages, no more, no less. Go for it. And let me know how they work out for you.
Anybody have any experiences with Morning Pages they would like to share?