On Morning Pages and Self-discipline

I’m pretty bad at daily habits. Exhibit #1 is that my last public post on this blog was a book review from August 2016.

I need to get better about this. I’ve been making my living with words for several years now, and between my paid gigs (mostly corporate telecom documentation) and my family life, I haven’t really posted much for me.

This is a dreadful habit, and I’ve felt its effects on my well of creativity.  In an effort to address this, I am now instituting two daily habits:

  1. I will begin the Morning Pages daily writing habit
  2. I will post to this blog daily

I know what you’re saying, “Isn’t it a little extreme to go from over two years of no posts to a daily posting expectation?” You bet it is! I need to move past the belief that a blog post is something is a long-form meticulously researched piece of permanent content. It can be that, of course, and I think that is probably my best content, but I also need to get into the daily habit first and foremost.

What is Morning Pages, anyway?

It’s a daily writing habit introduced by Julia Cameron in her book ‘The Artist’s Way’ where you get up in the morning, sit down, and write out three pages by hand. The pages can be about anything you wish–you can write about what’s on your mind, crazy new business ideas, how much you hate your fill-in-the-blank, or even just a to-do list. The point is that you’re writing daily and that you’re getting the clutter out of your head and onto the page so you can free up your grey matter for what you need to be working on.

There’s also a benefit to be gained by writing right after you get up; sometimes, if you get started quickly enough, you can capture some of your evanescent unconscious thoughts before they fade away into the ether. Someone on Reddit described it as ‘a pensieve for muggles’. I like that. I also did not get to experience that first-hand today, as my three-month-old daughter woke up me at 2:30 AM, but them’s the breaks.

I like fancy pens and paper, but for this discipline, I’m starting with a composition notebook where I started a new worldbuilding project over a year ago and never got past page 20. It feels kind of providential.

Anyway, don’t feel the need to read the book The Artist’s Way before you start Morning Pages, because I certainly haven’t (although I ordered the book last night – I like to have dead tree books for marginalia). Since I stole the image in this post from Little Coffee Fox, I’ll link to her excellent post on How Morning Pages Changed My Life to get a feel for the basics. That’s also kind of providential because her video on 15 Tips for Getting Started with Morning Pages was one of the first ones I watched yesterday. Go check them both out.

Let’s see how long this habit train goes

BTTFTrain

At this point, I may write a long post like I did today for the next three days and then say something snarky and profanity-laced and come back. I hope I don’t do that, but it’s a possibility. For a guy who wrote for two years for Lifehacker, I kind of suck at personal discipline.

If I were still a pro blogger or even a prosumer blogger, I would now direct you to sign up for my mailing list or tweet at me to see how well I do, but to be honest, I’m not doing any of that at this point. I don’t have a business plan or a book outline. I’m just casting out words into the ether…daily…for me. What comes next will be a little more professional, probably with my old URL and an actual mailing list. Someday I will have that, but it is not this day.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

10 thoughts on “On Morning Pages and Self-discipline

  1. Hi David…I’ve done the morning pages for years. I own both the Cameron book and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones… (I think Cameron discovered the idea of Morning Pages thru Goldberg). There is a trick in one of those books, to keep going when you don’t think you have any content for your morning pages…the trick? Start with “I remember” and just write about every memory you can think of whether it’s yesterday or forty years ago. I bet I’ve filled 3,000 pages of “I remember” over the last decade.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry I didn’t see your question. If you’re interested, next pub night (or whenever we meet) I’ll be happy to lend you my copy and you can decide for yourself. In short, I think it’s worth it. Goldberg is a little bit “hippy” which suits me fine (tbh, I think Cameron is too). One thing Goldberg is big on…is writing as a meditative practice.

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    1. Sounds great, Tony (I can’t reply to your last reply, so I’m replying here so you’ll see it. Thanks, WordPress.). I think a good topic for an upcoming pub night would be for everyone to bring 1-2 of their favorite writing books to pass around and look at.

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