Morning Pages

Posted on Sun 17 August 2014 in Dispatches • 2 min read

I’ve been trying to get back into the routine of doing morning pages. That is, the process of writing three pages of material each day to clear my mind and prime my creative pump for the day. Sometimes, I have something structured in mind for that morning, sometimes it ends up being a flow of consciousness, or even patent nonesense. The point isn’t to produce a masterwork each day, just to produce something. As I’ve resumed this practice, I’ve found it to be just as fulfilling as I remember it being, and I’m motivated to prevent any laziness seeping in to disrupt my routine.

In the past, I’ve used the wonderful service 750 Words both as an editor and goal-tracking tool, though now I prefer to just use a dedicated group of timestamped sheets in Ulysses III. I wholeheartedly recommend either or even both, and I certainly owe the latter a review. However, it doesn’t really matter what tools are being used, as long as it’s getting done.

Of course, getting those pages in can be a challenge. Having children makes everything more difficult (though it is worth it). When I’m home from work, and my daughter is awake, I want to be with her, not sitting off in the corner of the house. In addition, I’m often up late, and our daughter wakes up early. That makes it tricky to schedule time early in the day to write undisturbed.

That also means that more often than not1, I end up writing those pages much later in the day. For example, this post began as a stray paragraph in today’s entry, which I am now writing in the late afternoon. Now, that may not be a best practice when it comes to clearing my head, but I’m less concerned with that than I am with devloping the discipline to keep doing it each day, even when it’s difficult to schedule.

Which incidentally is why I’m writing this now. My daughter is having her afternoon nap, and my wife has run out to pick up some items at the store. So, I’m sitting on our deck in a folding chair. The baby monitor rests within the left-hand cupholder, and a cold bottle of beer in the other. I’m typing this while I listen to the birds call to each other from the trees, and the wind plays with my hair.

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon.

If you haven’t tried getting in the habit of doing morning pages, I recommend that you try. It’s amazing how much more centered and focused I am on the days that write my three pages, and every once and a while, you find a gem that’s worth using elsewhere. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to sit, stop, and focus exclusively on your place in the current moment. Given our modern state of constant stimulation, I can’t imagine anything more important for a human than that.

  1. By which I mean, almost always.