Following on from my earlier post on The Artists Way for Retirement (published in the USA as It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again), one of the key tasks and a daily part of the process is the writing of Morning Pages.
Julia Cameron is precise in her instructions for writing Morning Pages.
Do them early.
Use 3 pages of A4.
Cover the whole width of the page and don’t use paragraphs.
Write everything, no censoring, editing or pondering.
Don’t re-read. Don’t let anyone see your writing.
Pour the contents of your mind out on to the page and see where it leads you.
Sounds easy, especially for an inveterate diary writer like me. Yet somehow it was no surprise when on the first day the Gremlins of Resistance peered over my shoulder.
‘Don’t worry if you don’t get round to Morning pages til 10pm,’ they murmured. ‘A4’s far too big, it’ll take forever to cover 3 pages of that. Spread it all out, you’ll get done quicker. Be careful what you write, you don’t want to give too much away. Write as if someone was going to read it.’
As I frequently forget to ignore my gremlins, I went along with them. The pages looked like this.
Writing them took less than 30 minutes.
It felt like another rushed job on the tick-list, something to gallop through, self-censoring all the while.
I continued like this for several weeks, and even though I was so thoroughly ignoring the instructions, the Morning Pages did still work some magic.
I began to discover things I’d forgotten I liked to do. Started making some changes, a few decisions.
Then, about 3 weeks from the end of the whole process, I re-read Julia Cameron’s instructions and decided to give them a proper shot, smother the pages with writing and say whatever came into my mind.
Now, the pages looked like this. It took an hour to do them. It felt as if I was getting somewhere, it was fun, and soon I was pouncing on my notebook first thing every morning.
I discovered that when you have to fill 3 large pages, you are forced to go deeper. There’s only so much fluff you can write down. And there’s a joy to producing a messy, illegible sprawl of writing, covering the lines, falling off the edges.
The Morning Pages agreed, and pointed me in new directions, towards interesting discoveries. Writing at length was a major key to working out what it was I needed to be doing to re-create my life post-retirement.
Try Morning Pages. They have a lot to tell you. But if you want to get the most from the process, shut your gremlins in the cellar and follow the instructions.