How to Start Writing Morning Pages Everyday
April 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
——— by Nicky Hajal
You’re reading this on a computer which tells me 2 things: you’re literate and you have a computer. That’s enough to know for sure that you, and many people like you, have what it takes to write morning pages every day.
And yet, very few do.
I was one of the people that wanted to write everyday for years and never could. Then, something clicked in me 6 months ago. Since, I’ve written just about 200,000 words.
In the beginning I was spotty, once missing nearly 3 weeks of writing. But, over time I set strong precedents and got increasingly consistent. Now, I know I will only miss a morning page if I choose to. And, I haven’t since May 2nd – exactly 2 months ago.
Not too shabby for someone who averaged one page a year before December.
So what the hell happened? What made it possible for me to cut the crap and just get writing?
Hopefully this doesn’t come off the wrong way, but my guiding mantra to getting into morning pages was: “Who cares?”
If I’m writing everyday, who cares about length, punctuation, the software I’m using or anything else my brain comes up with to make me second guess my progress? Not me. Morning pages are just for writing, that is it.
Our brains love to criticize. But morning pages are not about that. If you’re writing and reflecting, you’re doing all you need to.
Don’t reread your posts
This is not a journal. It’s a time to get everything in your head, out of your head. It’s a time to just get writing and shake your thoughts around. It’s about playing in the present with the state of your mind now.
In the past, when I started journaling, I would write each entry thinking about what my future self would think about when he reread it. This means I was never just purely accepting how I was feeling in the moment and getting that down – I was projecting my future thoughts onto my current ones.
That would lead to being over critical about my writing and I’d lose interest.
Knowing going into morning pages that I was never planning on re-reading them made it much easier to get down to business.
The reality is that when you write several hundred words everyday, there is no way you’re going to go back and read through all those pages and pages of thoughts.
Commit to not even taking a glance at your old pages for at least a full month, until you’re in the habit of writing daily. Then you’ll have so much written that it’s impractical to anyway (every once in awhile these days, I do skim through a few but really can’t imagine re-reading even one in its entirety).
Spelling? Grammar? Who cares.
Since you, and everyone else, will never be reading these who the hell cares about spelling or grammar or paragraphs or a consistent message and flow?
All of these things have kept me from writing everyday in the past and it is absolutely insane for them to! Who cares?!
I usually type morning pages with my eyes closed. When I open them what I see is one huge block of text, bleeding with red spell-correcter underlines. Works for me!
Length is as big a deal as you make it
In the Artists’ Way, where the idea of Morning Pages originates, Julia Cameron suggests writing 3 pages a day. I say: who cares? If you only can get out 150 words, that is so much better than none.
Don’t get me wrong, having a word count to shoot for is really important. But this post is about building the habit. And to build the habit, you can’t beat yourself up over a failed attempt.
Anytime you’re building a habit, you’re really getting in the habit of making attempts. Over time, your attempts get better.
As soon as you drop some of your existing beliefs about how hard or easy it is to write, you just start cruising and word counts don’t matter anyway.
Some really poor math led me to convert the 3 pages in the artists way to a writing goal of 1600 words typed out. I didn’t really think about it at the time and just hacked away at that goal until I was hitting it consistently.
I’m glad I made that mistake, though, because it showed me that writing just is not hard (writing well is hard, but morning pages aren’t that).
Forget the Morning Part
When communicating to myself, I actually call them MPs instead of morning pages because for a long time I wasn’t able to get my ass in gear to write in the morning. I felt stupid calling them morning pages.
But, I was writing and that’s the part that mattered.
Eventually, I did get to writing consistently in the morning – it’s nice, but hard to notice if much better than writing at any other time of the day.
The past week I’ve been splitting my morning pages in half and writing when I wake up and before bed. So far, being able to clear my mind at both of those times has been pretty excellent.
Write when it works for you and play with different times as you get consistent.
“What if I miss a day?”
Everybody misses a day. Don’t make this more than it is.
Morning pages are an incredibly powerful tool for people trying to accomplish ambitious goals. Even better, they are totally free and totally accessible. I can’t understand why anyone would not opt to not take some time everyday to write them.
And yet I can because it evaded me for so long.
It always takes some mental wrangling to pick up a new habit no matter how available. So, be specific about what exactly you’re trying to achieve: the ability to write your thoughts everyday.
Allow all else to be secondary. If it isn’t helping you simply write your thoughts everyday, who cares?