Loosening the Screws With Morning Pages Journaling

Let me make a disclaimer right at the beginning of this.

I do not believe in the mystical, metaphysical, spiritual, or cosmic connection to find, free, call, discover, etc. your “voice” as a writer or artist.

I do not believe we “manifest” our reality. I see no need or wisdom in the Law of Attraction and I don’t need a muse. Now, if my muse is pretty and has soft hands, likes kissing, etc. – then, fine, she can show up.

But only after I’m done writing because, quite frankly, she’s distracting. I mean, have you seen the way that saucy tart dresses?

Morning Pages

I was listening to Brian Koppelman being interviewed on Joe Pug’s, The Working Songwriter Podcast. He mentioned wanting to write but how doing the Morning Pages exercise outlined in The Artist’s Way was a critical and freeing moment. It turned his writing loose and soon after he finished his first screenplay.

I browsed through The Artist Way many years ago. I didn’t really do much for me.

However, upon hearing Brian’s response to Morning Pages I thought I’d give them a try. I already had a spiral notebook, so what the heck.

In case you are not familiar, the Morning Pages exercise is to write three pages, by hand, every morning. Journaling, but not a diary. More stream-of-consciousness. You are NOT trying to produce work. You are just letting your mind (and hand) spin.

The idea is that, in the process, you often write about all the BS that hangs you up or the concerns of the day or ???? – or anything. Most importantly, you write without engaging your inner-critic, editing, or judging quality. Drop pretension and pressure.

These are for your eyes only. Some people even recommend burning them after. You do not have to revisit them. In fact, it is sort of frowned upon.

I’ve bemoaned my lack of writing the past several years. More precisely, how bound or controlled my writing was – constrained. I used to riff on anything and everything. It was fun, often insightful, and ultimately, led to me being published.

Lately, when sitting to write, I try to determine what I can write that will have an impact or turn the readers head (and mind) around.  That is a lot of pressure to put on a blank page and yourself.

My experience so far

I’m only a few days in.. I like it. I’ve covered several topics in each of the days I’ve written. Everything from depressing musings on what I have failed to accomplish, to our chihuahua’s strange behavior – rolling onto her back when you call her, to sex, to being devoid of jealousy, to my bad handwriting.

I told a friend that I was concerned that stream-of-consciousness would result in nothing but musings on sex. But, as it turns out, that’s only about 75% of it. (just kidding – I’ve found other things to write about).

The exercise “feels” like it had an immediate effect, leading to my blog entry on creators and critics.

Adding an Index

I am adding an index to my morning pages. And being a reasonably logical human, I write my index starting on the last line of the last page of the notebook and work up and eventually backward in the journal.

Why start on the last line?

It is similar Merlin living backward through time.

I don’t know how long or detailed my index may have to be. If I start on the top of the last page, I may use the entire page up and run out of room. If I start on a prior page and don’t use all the pages, I’ll feel wasteful.

I number and date the pages as I write them.

Page 1, 2, & 3 each have the same date on them. 4, 5, & 6 – the next date. 7, 8, & 9 – the next day, etc.

The last page of the journal has something like:

===TOP OF PAGE ===

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

5/11/2018  7- and this idea.  8- sex.  9 – not about sex
5/10/2018  6 – “a quote I liked” – revisit this.  *
5/10/2018  4-rambling about something…  5- wrote about my dog
5/9/2018  1- x and y topic. 2- another topic. 3 – and this topic

===BOTTOM OF PAGE ===

See what I mean? At some point, my writing will meet with my index and the notebook will be complete.

The index is just a way for me to peruse a journal later and allow me to find something of interest or trigger a memory. Remember how I said some people recommend not revisiting them or burning them? I’ve never been super compliant – this is how I want to do it. If you undertake Morning Pages, you should do it in a way that works for you.

I don’t know if it is actually loosening the screws or not – but my muse gets all touchy-feely when i write.

I know, I said I didn’t need a muse – but that saucy tart showed up anyway!

Now I’m off to manifest some breakfast.


A blurred out and doctored picture of two of my pages. 
I hope you can’t read them. 😮

my blurred out morning pages

Posted in Blog, Tools and Tips, Writing and tagged , , .

Add your thoughts here! You know you want to...