morning pages -or- how I really did that thing I’ve been trying to do for years

This is my obligatory blog post praising the practice of Morning Pages. I did not think I would be writing this blog post because I had tried so many other morning rituals before that never really felt right. I’d tried becoming an Idea Machine. I’d tried meditating in the morning (turns out morning meditation turns into snooze city). I’d tried to do sun salutations every morning (because sun, morning, duh). None of these things stuck and all of them felt overly time consuming and not really aligned with my personality.

I originally read about morning pages on xojane. I was in a rabbit hole of writing from one particular writer who had gained a lot of (NEGATIVE) attention. You could call it a hate read, but really it was driven by a curiosity of why everyone hated her. (How am I ever going to be liked if I don’t know why people are hated ya know?)

From that xojane article I went straight to the source, without paying for the source. I found a pretty succinct blog post from the author of The Artist’s Way who laid out the plan: do three pages of long hand writing every morning. She also says this quote which I wrote on a notecard and left by my bed with the rest of the materials necessary for this plan. “It’s like taking your dark side out to for coffee.”

Who doesn’t want to spend time with their dark side? Hell, I’ve thrown incalculable amounts of money to do that with a therapist. Might as well do it between the covers of the journals I’d abandoned hundreds of times.

So I started. And I sucked at it. What was I supposed to write? How was I supposed to write something honest and real when I was always afraid someone would read it? Why would I get up 15 minutes earlier to share my coffee with my dark side?

But I was also trying all these other things at the time. (Running, writing classes, yoga, etc) And while I was doing these morning pages, some very emotional things happened to me. I had a really rocky friendship break up. I decided to separate from my husband. I moved out on my own.

I wrote all of this down.

I didn’t know what else to do. Life as I’d known it was falling apart around me and the people I’d normally talk to about it were the exact people I was disconnecting from and sometimes hurting. My journal became the best space for me to actually hear myself above the din of my emotional response. It was the only place I could turn down the volume of the panic alarm and think clearly.

Looking back at those journal entries brings me right back to that emotional time and 10/10 do not recommend rereading these journal entries if you can avoid it. Once you finish a journal, hide it away and forget about it. You can burn it for all I care. But the point of the morning pages isn’t to create a log of your emotions or events or anything, it’s just a space to work some shit out and feel like for a minute you’ve done something positive for your day.

So, try it. Get a wide ruled journal (trust me your morning self is not real great at handwriting) and your favorite pen (your morning self is a bitch and will use any excuse to get out of these) and create a mini ritual. Mine involves coffee, my bed, and my window. Find a spot you feel comfortable in that’s not too far from your bed. Every day you do the thing, feel good about it. Then do it the next day. And on the days you forget in the morning, do it at lunch, or in the afternoon or whenever you get back to your journal. I’ve even done morning pages in different, smaller journals just to keep my streak going. Do it for 30 days and see what happens.

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