Someday, I will be able to wake before dawn every morning to meditate and write. But these days, I work at night, often late. And I certainly can’t be both a night owl and an early bird. At some point this year, though, I started wondering if I could give myself just enough of the morning to do morning pages.
Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages — they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind — and they are for your eyes only.
I’ve never taken a course in The Artist’s Way or even done much more than skim the book. I’m not interested in following another program right now. But I am interested in writing — and in seeing what happens if I start each day by writing about “anything and everything” that happens to cross my mind just then.
Actually, the biggest surprise about morning pages is that I’m able to do them at all. I started doing them in mid-August, while we were on vacation in New Hampshire. I wasn’t thinking then about whether or not or how I would continue with them when we got back to the city. I just woke, crept out of bed and down to the porch, sat with a view of the lake and mountains before me, and wrote.
And somehow, when we got back to Brooklyn, I kept doing more or less the same thing — just without the porch or the lake or the mountains.
How I Do Them
Cameron says to write three pages first thing in the morning. That’s not quite what I do.
There’s usually some giggling with the Critter first thing in the morning; he’s usually in bed with me when I wake. And then I put on a sweatshirt or bathrobe and go to the bathroom. Then the Critter and I drink some orange juice, mostly because I need to take my iron supplement well before I eat anything else. Also, I’m usually thirsty. Then I return to my desk to do what the Critter calls my “writings.” I write two pages, not three. While I write, the Critter does his own thing. Or he sits on my lap. Either way, I get them done. It takes about twenty minutes.
There are days I have to pry myself open just to write a line or two of poetry. It hurts. The morning pages are a way of keeping the channel open between my heart and my hand and my words. No need for any painful prying.
But something else is going on, too. For years the admonition has echoed in my mind: Du mußt dein Leben ändern. With morning pages I’m showing myself that I really can change my life, and that the change need not be so severe as whatever it is the Archaic Torso of Apollo seems to demand. The accrual of new habits: that is all that is needed.
I have my morning pages; I’ve been working on establishing a ritual for writing poetry. What about my journal? What about reading more poetry? And what else? The questions feel less demanding, more interested, more curious. Habit by habit, I can change my life. And in the meantime, I’m building a foundation. And, though I may be writing the worst crap in the world (and hey! Natalie Goldberg says it’s OK!), I’m writing every day.