Hello there, and good morning. It is 5:57 a.m. and I’ve just finished another round of writing my morning pages. If you’ve never heard of the morning pages, it’s a method used by author Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way to boost creative thinking. What it basically entails is the streaming of thoughts to paper to essentially, put bluntly, dump the recycle bin of the brain to clear your mind for the coming hours of the day. You empty the contents of your SIM card to make room for new information.
In this case, it could be new information, new ways of expressing yourself, new ways of thinking, problem solving, writing– just about anything can be benefited by the Morning Pages, depending entirely on what it is you are looking for. According to the book, there’s really no way to mess up the morning pages. All you do is sit down, write your thoughts out for 3 pages, and that’s it. No grammatical rules to follow, no censoring yourself– letting things just flow out is something that anyone wishing for a new path in life can start or maintain for any period of time in order to boost their inspiration to start something. And this makes quite a lot of sense.
For the longest time, people told me I was a good writer, or at least had a solid command of the English language at an early age. What I hadn’t known was where it would be useful. I’m beginning to see that proper grammar isn’t necessary 100% of the time (but I still like to be a grammar Nazi on Facebook just for laughs), but I’m also beginning to understand that writing by hand, even if you don’t have anything to say, can be beneficial. The purpose of the morning pages is to get your hand moving across a page. If you aren’t the writing type, don’t worry– no one, including yourself, will ever see them. If you have some bad thoughts to get out of your system, that’s also a harmless method of venting. Now I’m not known for a foul mouth, but a few words have decided to burst out from time to time. But this is okay. You don’t have to even keep the pages, but it’s important that you do not read them again. That’s probably why you dumped those thoughts to begin with.
So what have I discovered in the week and a half that I have been writing in the morning pages? Well, I remembered times when I was a dumb Navy kid. I reflected on family members. I started gaining insight into my own life. Here’s the thing– I’m a metalhead. I enjoy bands like Cattle Decapitation, Six Feet Under, Cannibal Corpse, Animals As Leaders, among many others. This type of music made me feel at the top of the world at all times of the day (ego). Now some time later, I still listen to music, but with a more finely-tuned ear for quality. “What does this have to do with anything?” you may ask. Well, just as with everything else, maturity does take a bit of time to obtain. When it hits, some people find it far too late. Others discover it in high school, way before their time and know immediately what they want to do with their own lives, and they end up pursuing that field successfully.
And then there’s me. I’m 30, soon to be 31, and I’ve been slowly figuring out more about what it is I need to do in order to live an easier life. That can be answered with a simple pair of words: new job. If you have been following my blog for any period of time, you’ll know that I work at Panera. Recently, I had become very ill with a viral infection in my pharynx. I had to miss out on two weeks of work because I was in such excruciating pain that it’s amazing I actually didn’t break down because of the physical burden of this pain. Since then, they have cut my hours down to 3 days a week. This is hardly enough to bay any bills. Yesterday, I had read another blog here regarding minimum wage and bills. I actually agree with Mr. Walsh. I’m working in a job field intended for minors and young adults, and here I am at 30 still working for them. I have more than 70 semester units at a community college (but due to my lack of mathematical knowledge or understanding, I never graduated) and studied psychology, English, some business and good old-fashioned liberal arts. And none of these job fields of which were any interest to me.
My basic college courses included anatomy and some physiology, and a bit of chemistry. I mean, everyone knows these things, right? I suppose. But let’s face it– I didn’t truly learn what I wanted to learn because I didn’t have the inspiration to try different things outside of schooling. Hell, I even received free proper training to become an electrician, and I forgot most of it because I didn’t care about that. My interest has always been in words, and to some degree, just writing and reading in general. But to find a job field which required some adept knowledge of English when in a state of being blind to situational awareness was just as finicky as trying to find a bean burrito in a pile of beef burritos. There were so many options out there, and I wanted something very related to the field, but not once did it occur to me that I should actually begin to write to gain skills in that field.
Not just any writing will do. I have been typing for a long time now. (I’m barely at 50 words per minute at 95% accuracy according to the state typing test I had taken in the last week. I needed to surpass 35 words per minute to apply for a job.) No, in fact, writing on the computer is actually somewhat mindless. You can type and type and type, and the computer will grant you error messages in the form of a red squiggly line. I can be all the grammar Nazi I wish to be, but that only means I can correct people easily without a red squiggly line. The kind of writing I’m talking about here is handwriting. I’ve figured that if one can simply type endlessly and deftly on a compute, one can also write by hand and obtain the same results. This is absolutely not so, and I now know what Julia was telling the readers when it came to saying that handwriting is more personal. What you’re really getting out of life really depends on you. The same applies to writing. What you’re really getting out of yourself depends on you.
So the morning pages help with sparking some creative ideas about work, creativity, art, drawing, speech, cooking– well, pretty much anything in which you find a passion in life can be improved with a bit of creative problem solving. Having a rut in life? Maybe dumping out the bad and starting in with some good should help out. Problem-solving is found everywhere in life. I’m starting to see more about where I’m supposed to be, and I’ve applied for a job dealing with office work. I know some people think that might not be a metalhead’s job, but I’m not too bad with this at all.
I’m just placing this here because I felt that it was something to say while actually explaining how I came around to figuring out where I would like to be in life. I don’t want to work at Panera for the rest of my life, and I know they’ll sabotage my efforts to move somewhere else because I’m such a valuable asset to their company. They did that to two different places already, and so I have learned that telling the superiors anything leads to obstructions. Blockages. “Loose lips sink ships.” I’m learning more how to guard my words carefully around the managers now that I started with the Morning Pages.
What’s the worst that can happen if you begin the morning pages? You just go through a lot more paper than average. It took me about an hour and a half to finish my first one, and this morning it took me 50 minutes, more or less. But that’s only three pages a day. One and a half sheets of lines 8.5”x11” of writing, suspending grammatical knowledge and including fragments as often as is necessary to write out the pages as quickly as possible. I know I rarely type or speak in sentence fragments, and you may not have happened upon any here. I do absolutely overuse abstract writing methods in my morning pages. It’s creative writing. Don’t let anything limit you. Once you break through the chains that bind you, your limits will be greater than your current imagination. I recommend you try these for at least a couple of weeks and see if anything, even your way of thinking, changes. Something will change! Maybe not in the way you expect, but changes will occur.