I’ve kept journals off and on through the years, starting when I was in grade school – remember those diaries with the cute little lock and key? And then, of course, my gingham notebook… Currently, I have two journals – and honestly, I would have a lot more if I thought that I could keep up with them. There is something about books filled with blank pages – all the potential that they hold.
Journal #2 – morning pages
A couple of weeks ago, while roaming through the bookstore, I decided that it was time to start a new journal for “morning pages.” Have you heard of this? I had been considering it for a while – the only thing I really knew about it is that you write three pages in the morning – stream of consciousness. For a style of journaling with “no wrong way” of doing it, there are actually a lot of rules – many of which I apparently break.
Rule break #1: I don’t write my pages first thing in the morning – on weedays, I wait until I am on the train. My morning routine, which starts with an overwhelming desire to throw my alarm across the room, is always terribly rushed. I don’t even have my coffee until I am on the train – so I’m not really awake, anyway… right? Rule break #2: I am pretty sure that I use the wrong size paper. I know, I know, if there is a rule about the number of pages, of course there is a rule about the size of the page. Sigh. I pretty much stopped reading about the rules.
Anyway – before learning that I am doing it all wrong, I googled “morning pages” and happened upon a blog post by Chris Winfield, who wrote that he starts everyday by writing “Today is going to be the best day ever.” which for some reason, seemed like a fantastic idea to me.
Chatting with one of my morning train friends, I described this idea:
Me: So, do you think that writing “Today is going to be the best day ever” actually works?
Train friend: Best day ever? haha – NO
Me: ummmm – really? Well, do you think that if you start the day with the attitude that it could be the best day ever, it might turn out to be better than it would have?
Train friend: NO
Me: Hmmm, you sound like you might be more cynical than I am
Train friend: I’m realistic
Me: Okay… Well… I hope you have a really great day! (maybe the best day ever)
So, while I am not ready to concede that my train friend is right about this, I have stopped writing about the best day ever at the beginning of every post. But that is only because I am pretty sure that as I am writing it, I’m not supposed to be thinking sarcastically to myself “yeah, right.”
I haven’t quite mastered this new morning writing habit – even allowing for my rule modifications. And while I initially thought that specifying a certain number of pages was kind of, sort of dumb – I get it now (even if I might be – probably am – using the wrong page size). The benefits, though, feel a lot like a morning walk – a clearer mind and the readiness to conquer the day. It really doesn’t have to be the best day ever to be a pretty good day.
So – I’d love to hear your thoughts – do you start your day expecting the best day ever? Do you write morning pages?
(Oh yeah – and my morning train friend – she’s actually an upbeat person. Go figure.)
9 responses to “Morning pages”
I am on my fourth year of morning pages. BEST THING I ever started. Some days are dull, some days are exciting, but they always document my life. I also reread what I wrote on the same day the year before. For me it helps to see where I have been and where I am now. Plus I often read Mallory things that I wrote the year before and we laugh about them, when they pertain to her. I feel it documents my growth but also the growth I see in her. I am sure I don’t follow all the rules either, and I certainly don’t start with This is going to be the BEST DAY EVER. Some days I don’t write until afternoon, some days things are so dull I only write two pages, and some days I have read something that I want to remember and I will copy it there, and I end up filling four pages. It all equals out in the end. The train sounds the perfect time for your writing, plus you have fun things to watch around you.
I have heard of the benefits of morning pages, but just never seemed to find the right routine for them. I’m like you, not ready to write first thing of the morning. I am a rule follower, but I find so many times that my creativity is stifled when I try to follow the rules! Adapting things to our own needs makes them so much more enjoyable!
Well now then . . .
I don’t journal . . . anymore . . . used to . . . lots . . .
I do have these “mini” times when I open my journal and write some thoughts . . .
I like smaller paged journals . . .
Someone telling me it is the “best day ever”, might turn the tide for me . . .
the wrong way . . .
I think journaling while on the train would be great . . .
Or sitting back, listening, watching, drinking coffee . . .
sounds like the makings of a really great day . . .
I am still humming Morning Has Broken . . .
So now you have me thinking too about this journaling idea, Karen, and I have heard of morning pages but not thought of doing it myself. I smiled when I read about the “rules” which would spoil the joy for me and so I was glad to read you chucked those. I have been thinking (but not yet doing) about starting a separate blog where I can write online about random thoughts. Good luck with your journaling and if it’s enjoyable for you then who cares about following any rules.
i have never read about “morning pages” until now – i am not completely sure i understand what you are suppose to write about. the day has not happened yet, are you suppose to write about the things you want to accomplish in the day? i will have to google it. i use my blog like a journal and i write about previous events, trips, outings…well, you know what i write about. i start every day listening to upbeat music, one of my morning songs is “this is going to be the best day of my life” go figure!!!
and i’m glad you spend your train ride with an upbeat person. i also LOVE your images, they are always so creative!!!
I have heard of Morning Pages, Karen. I think the person who coined this term was Julia Cameron, in “The Artist’s Way.” I’ve not read the book, but I know it is quite popular.
For me, my Morning Pages is my morning run. I start out right around 5 am each morning. It’s so quiet then, so it’s just me and my thoughts (good, bad, or indifferent, depending on the day!). If I’m struggling with something, it is that time alone that always seems to help me sort it out. If I’m not struggling with anything, it is the time when I can think creatively, or just “be” (my favorite!)
P.S. Yup, your train friend sounds pretty cynical. 🙂
I have kept a journal off and on over the years. The insights that come up from ‘morning pages’ are quite amazing sometimes. I haven’t been doing the morning pages lately, but maybe I should get out a notebook and try again… I have found if I use a cheap spiral notebook I let go of the thought that I have to make it ‘look good’ and write more from my heart. (I know that sounds corny.) I say break any rules you want to. 🙂
Actually before go to sleep I used to tell myself that “hope everything is fine, don’t worry be happy” ! So it’s up to us whether to write or not the certain lines and anything that make feel comfort should be right, despite what happens.
I’ve actually started to write morning pages a while ago, but then I got so fed up with all the rules because they didn’t really work for me and that only blocked my entire writing process. Now I journal in composition books (wrong page size for sure), and not even every day and certainly not first thing in the morning. Sometimes I go for weeks without writing and I feel something is missing. The writing clears my mind, makes me see some things for what they are, and sometimes I just rant. That helps, too. I don’t care how many pages I write – when I’m done, I’m done.