Morning Pages – Clearing the Head Clutter

Morning pages — if you already do them, you know their benefits.

If you don’t do morning pages or haven’t heard of them, read on.

I learned about morning pages through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s one way to work through the clutter that can fill your mind and stump your writing (or any creative) progress.

In the image included here, I have a copy of The Artist’s Way as well as The Artist’s Way Morning Pages Journal. There is no real reason to purchase the journal, I simply like that it follows along with the book (if you’re interested in a 12-week program to increase your creativity), and it allows 3-pages-per-day to fill in for those 12 weeks.

Morning pages are simply journal pages you do first thing in the morning (for best results).

The best benefit of morning pages – no thinking! The morning pages are meant to clear your head space before you fully wake up and start any creative activity.

The morning pages are stream of consciousness and never for anyone else to see.

Decluttering your mind of whatever filled it while you were sleeping allows you to focus quicker when you move into your day.

How to do morning pages:

  • wake up
  • roll over
  • grab the journal and pen
  • open to the next blank page
  • write — whatever flows out of your fingertips

Of course you can vary the process depending on your life – bathroom rituals might take priority. You may prefer to grab a cup of coffee. Maybe you want to sit at a desk to write. The earlier you can start writing, the better, though. Get the clutter out and move on!

Writing three pages before I’m fully awake is easier than writing them any other time of the day, because once the day begins, it’s so easy to drift off and think about things on the to do list.

I truly feel that morning pages ‘clear the clutter’ out of my head so I can get to the words I need. Like shoveling a path to the car on a snow day — if the snow isn’t cleared I can still get to the car, but it’s a struggle. So it’s best to clear a path to be most productive!

What writing habit do you find useful to clear your head clutter?

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies and individuals tell their stories. You can connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, AlignableInstagram, and Twitter.

Reflect and Recharge

Not all writers are introverts who cherish alone time. Many are, but even writers who are extroverts and get all their energy from being with other people, need time alone.

We need time to fill the well. The well is replenished with reflection, relaxation, observation, meditation, and movement. 

I should say, my well is filled with all these things. Your well may be filled by additional practices, but even the most extroverted among us has to take some time for reflection and observation. We can’t spend all our time creating content and we can’t spend all our time taking in more—more conversation, more story, more learning.

We need to pause and just be every once in a while. Regularly, if we are going to keep filling that well. 

Silence is one of the best tools I’ve found for filling my well. I regularly take Wordless Walks with other people. We may chat before and after the walk, but during the walk, we are silent. We are walking, we are breathing, we are noticing the crunch of the ice underneath our cleats and the flash of the cardinal’s wing as it takes off from a nearby branch. 

And we are filled up when we are finished. Full of images, ideas, questions, and insights. 

Honestly, I think one of the reasons we all get our best ideas in the shower is it’s one of the few places we are alone without the radio/podcast/TV/other people feeding us words.

  • You don’t have to go on a Wordless Walk to embrace quiet or to allow yourself time to reflect. You could go for a walk outside by yourself without wearing earbuds or listening to anything on your phone. 
  • You could go to a place that’s unusual for you, even a store you don’t usually shop at, and just browse around without an agenda or a shopping list. This is the classic Artist’s Date Julia Cameron recommends in her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. 
  • Or, you could decide not to listen to your car radio while driving somewhere and see where your thoughts lead you. Keep a notebook handy for your insights (once you are in park, of course!)
  • You could sip a cup of tea or coffee in a public place and notice all the hubbub around you while you remain in an oasis of calm.

Silence, time to reflect, artist’s dates—these are all writer’s tools, just as journaling is a tool. In order to know what we are really thinking, what we are really feeling, we need to take some time to allow our thoughts and feelings to surface. Time is a valuable and ever-more-rare commodity in this busy world, but it is essential for our well-being, whether we are writers or not. 

Without that time, that silence, that reflection, our words will eventually dry up. Don’t let that happen. 

Fill the well. 

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Diane MacKinnon, MD, is a Master Certified Life Coach who used to work as a Family Physician. She’s passionate about writing and journaling and is (still!) working on her first book, a self-help book for medical peeps. You can find her at her website, www.dianemackinnon.com.

Refilling Your Well with The Artist’s Date

Welcome to January! We’ve survived the holiday crush and now it is time to catch our breath. What we really need is time to rejuvenate and refuel because between the cooking and the baking and the shopping and the entertaining and the visiting the holidays rarely provide time for either of those things. Sadly, we no sooner finish with the gift exchange and the push is on to evaluate where we are and where we want to be. Zoinks! I’m exhausted how the devil can I figure out what is next? While everyone else plans their diets or how to get more organized, I think it is time for me to schedule an Artist’s Date.

Crayon Drawingphoto © 2009 Ana Fukase | more info (via: Wylio)

 

Have you read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way? If you haven’t, you should. In it, Cameron sets out a method to get back in touch your creativity, something artists of all genres and mediums can use a refresher course in once and a while. One of the activities Cameron suggests to help you refill your creative well is the Artist’s Date.

“An Artist’s Date is a block of time perhaps two hours weekly especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.”

Artists dates, need not be expensive, but they should be experienced only with your inner artist (no spouses, no friends and no critics). You can take an Artist’s Date to the Salvation Army or Good Will Store, a local gallery. Even a tile store can provide the change of pace necessary to spark inspiration. The point is to schedule the time and do not let ANYTHING encroach on it. If the time commitment is intimidating, take is slow, start with half of an hour, just take your inner child out for a playdate. Go to the beach, watch an old movie you borrowed from a friend. Do something just for the artist in you.

Before kids, I regularly participated in Artist’s Dates. We lived in Boston at the time, so the opportunities were endless. Sometimes I would go in to Out of Town News in Harvard Square and look at the magazines. I purposefully stayed away from the magazines I’d seen before. One writer colleague, a stay-at-home mom, took herself to a local adult book store. The resulting stories were priceless. After my daughter was born I rationalized my writer’s group as my Artist’s Date. While it fed my creativity, it didn’t comply with the spirit of the exercise. After my son was born I learned how to use a potters wheel to create bowls and cups out of hunks of clay. It was very therapeutic. I have gotten out of the habit of a regular Artist’s Date and I think it is time to restart the practice.

Have you ever taken an artist’s date? If so, what did you do?