Morning Pages


I’ve had an on again/off again relationship with morning pages.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with morning pages, they are three handwritten pages you’re supposed to write first thing in the morning, fast, without really thinking about what you’re writing. The theory behind them is, when we wake up, our minds are so full of stuff — tasks on our to-do lists, errands we have to run that day, things we’d like to whine and complain about, etc. Our brains are so busy sorting through all those things, our creativity is buried!

So, if we can just write out all that stuff first thing in the morning, our creative minds will be free to come forward and, uh, create! Morning pages are the brainchild of Julia Cameron who writes about the practice in her book The Artist’s Way. She also discusses the purpose of these pages in a video here.

I seem to return to writing morning pages whenever I’m in creative despair, when I’m feeling stuck with whatever I’m working on, or when things aren’t flowing the way I’d like them to. These are the times when morning pages work so well for me. First of all, it’s nice to write by hand. I’ve mentioned before that I have a love of fountain pens, so whenever I get the opportunity to write with them, I’m one happy girl. Also, writing morning pages is good for the psyche. I mean, you start your day writing! How nice is that? And, of course, once you start writing, there’s a good chance you’ll keep on writing! Lastly, I like writing morning pages because it’s a good discipline to get into; no day goes by without writing.

This time around, I’ve been doing morning pages for a few weeks and, once again, I’m in the love phase. I’m really finding this process helpful for my work-in-progress. Maybe in a couple of months, when I’m really deep into this novel, I won’t feel the need to write morning pages anymore. I might feel that they’re a waste of time, a distraction from my real work. But for now, I’m going to cling desperately to what’s working!





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9 responses to “Morning Pages

  1. ereagan

    Wow, was this post synchronistic for me! I read Dorothea Brande’s book yesterday, and wrote my first morning pages today. And, yes, they did part the veils of creative despair. So good to know I’m not alone.

  2. barbarakrasner

    I’ve been doing Morning Pages since 2004, starting during one of my first semesters at VCFA. After I survived my first few days of “I hate writing longhand,” I found myself coming up with all sorts of ideas through the pages – bits of dialogue, outlines, etc. It’s been a godsend. I don’t always get to it because of the day job, but when I do, it’s wonderful.

  3. Louise Hawes

    Could you make that “afternoon” pages, Coe? Then I’m with you all the way!

  4. Laura Kvasnosky

    I am a big fan of morning pages, too. They siphon off the static at the same time they oil up the writing apparatus. THE ARTIST’S WAY has lots of useful exercises to help you get in touch with your material, too. I think Julia Cameron borrowed liberally from writer/editor Dorthea Brande. Her book, BECOMING A WRITER, published in 1934, is still in print and full of strategies for generating and sustaining writing. Both are worth a look.

  5. Uma Krishnaswami

    I am not a morning pages fan–increasingly, as I grow older and grumpier, I am not a morning fan! But I love Dorothea Brande’s way of looking at writing. To me it’s a lot more convincing than Julia Cameron’s (dare I confess that I am not an Artist’s Way fan either? Probably grist for another conversation). For me, Brande is where it all came from. Her book reads quaintly in places (e.g., the bit about how every writer needs two typewriters) but for something published so long ago, it still holds up. It’s the book I go to for reassurance when despair hits, which it does so predictably for all of us.

  6. amykossblogthan

    Thanks! It all helps.
    amy g koss

  7. coebooth

    I’ve never read the Dorothea Brande book, but it sounds great. Just what I need!

    @Uma – I’m not the biggest fan of The Artist’s Way either. I read it when I was young and LOVED it! But every time I’ve looked at it since, I can’t help thinking that 98% of the book is a bunch of hooey. The only real takeaway for me was the morning pages.

    @Louise – I’m with you about the “afternoon pages!” Sometimes I do mine so late, they ARE afternoon pages!!!

  8. terrypierce

    I read Cameron’s book a few years ago but I didn’t connect with it. I’m wondering if after a few years of writing and the MFA under my belt if it would resonate more now. I’ve never read Brande’s book, but after reading the faculty comments, I think I’d like to read that one first. My only question with morning pages is how do you sit up and start writing with a sleeping spouse right next to you?

  9. You’ve got it in one. Coulnd’t have put it better.

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