Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tools for the Journey, Pt. 2

Yes, this is one shelf full of my morning pages.
Like an ability or a muscle, hearing your inner wisdom is strengthened by doing it.
— Robbie Gass

Yesterday, I discussed the time commitment that working with The Artist’s Way will require. You could scrimp, of course, but you will only shortchange yourself. I can promise you that if you want to see deep, permanent shifts in the way you live, in the understanding of yourself as a creative person, and your ability to actually fulfill your dreams and longings, putting in the time to work these exercises is crucial.

In addition, there are two other critically important tools for this transformation process. You may have heard of them: the morning pages and the artist date.

The morning pages are, simply, three pages of hand-written, stream of consciousness notes, faithfully recorded every single day during this process. No exceptions. And no, sorry, not on your computer.

There really is something magical and powerful about mind to hand to page that is different from keying to a machine and a screen. And, sooner or later, you’ll be glad that your morning pages are non-electronic and completely portable.

Otherwise, Julia reassures us, you cannot do them wrong. For instance, they need not be done in the mornings. However, that is usually the best time, because one of the functions of the morning pages is what Julia calls the brain drain. Morning pages are not really a narrative of your life. They are more like a core dump of everything that is rattling around in your head. When you do them in the mornings, you can really feel you are getting a fresh start every day.

Morning pages may occasionally turn brilliant, but as Julia notes, they are “not meant to be art. Or even writing.

“I want to stress that point to reassure nonwriters working with this book. Writing is simply one of the tools. Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid or too weird to be included.”

Mostly, they will be blathering on and on about whatever pops up. After three pages of downloading, you will have made room for good things to come in – inspiration, possibly; a bit more calm, almost certainly; but most of all, a kind of gentle receptivity and clarity that coaxes our creativity to come closer.

Because morning pages are really, really not meant to be written records of the stories of our lives, I would suggest that you NOT go out this weekend and buy a super nice journal to use. You are not going to want to fill up, say, a beautiful, leather-bound journal of creamy, expensive paper with what morning pages mostly are: whining, complaining, obsessing, and trivial, boring, crazy stuff. Instead, a cheapy-deepy wirebound notebook will do just fine.

Bear in mind that it will be three pages every day, so if you’d rather get something a little smaller than 8 1/2 by 11”, that’s okay, but no fair getting a teensy faery sized notebook, either! Something along the lines of 9×7 works great.

We’ll discuss the morning pages a lot more in the days ahead, believe me. But I want to point out that if you find you are really resistant to this idea, just notice that, acknowledge it, maybe ask yourself what that’s about. And, please agree to do it anyway.

The other basic tool of the The Artist’s Way is the artist date, which is a weekly play date for your artist self. This one sounds a lot more fun and easier to do than morning pages, but in my experience, it’s actually much harder, and I admit I failed more often than not.

Maybe that has contributed to why I am needing this refresher now. At any rate, I am vowing to do much better this time.

So stay tuned, and I’ll discuss the artist date in more detail next week.

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  • February 20, 2009, 10:06 am Anonymous

    Here is the basic problem I have always encountered when trying to do Morning Pages: the reality of my employment situation. In order to arrive at work at 8 a.m., I get up at 6 a.m and leave the house no later than 7 a.m. In the one hour I have, there is no “extra” time to sit and write 3 pages – I’ve honed my morning routine to make sure I do everything required. I’ve tried writing them when I arrive at my desk, but many days I already have to jump into projects with others at the workplace. Getting up at 5:30 is simply not a realistic option if I want to maintain my sanity. The only time Morning Pages have “worked” for me is when I’m on vacation or the few times I’ve been “between jobs.” Anyone have suggestions?

  • February 20, 2009, 11:08 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    That really is a tough one, anonymous.. (would you like to share a name or pseudonym so we know which anonymous is which? :-)… )

    Maybe you could do them at the end of the day, before you go home, especially if work, at day’s end, is quieter and less demanding than your time at home..

    Right before bedtime is also an option. While neither of these is ideal they are better than not doing the pages.

    Other ideas, folks??
    – Beth

  • February 20, 2009, 3:40 pm Athene Noctua

    Beth Owl-
    Slightly off topic, but I thought I’d share this w/ you. It’s from my neck of the woods so to speak. An artist in Seattle is filling the store fronts of empty buildings w/ his and others art, to help chase away the sense of blight and despair that empty stores bring. Here’s the link to the article in case anyone is interested-

    Also, as a night owl forced to work a larks hrs, I find journaling at night, before I go to sleep helps me rest better, since I don’t have as many ideas/compliants/thoughts/worries chasing around in my head. Guess, I will just make it 3 pages now, instead of a small pharagraph.

    Also, this anonymous has finally decided it’s time for a name here.

    Thanks 🙂

  • February 20, 2009, 8:14 pm Marya

    I found when I was very busy in publishing that I would go and sit in a park at lunchtime and just scribble way — it is amazing how much one can write in an hour and I felt so energised afterwards!

    Making time to play each week was so much harder! I m looking forward to hearing more on that.


  • February 24, 2009, 10:41 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    These are all such great ideas, y’all. Thanks Anonymous, for letting me know in email who you are! Smooch!

    And thanks VERY much for sharing your beautiful True Name with us, Athene Noctua (I have an unfinished novel mouldering away that is all about the Little Owl). So, a friendly Smooch to you, too, Owl Friend!

    Having thought this over, over the weekend, I have decided that softening and flexibility are really more important than absolute rigidity. Please do what works!

    HOWEVER – even for non-writers (maybe especially!) the morning pages really are a place to vent, mumble to oneself, and get the daily brain clutter out of the way. They are SO valuable, and for most of us, having a habitual time and place makes it much, much easier.

    I strongly urge folks to find a way! As Marya notes, you WILL feel so much lighter, shinier, and happier. Not to mention that we are going to be processing a lot of stuff, and doing it on paper gets it OUT of our systems in healthful, wholesome ways.

    So, maybe you could let finding a niche for your morning/afternoon/evening pages be your FIRST creative act of derring-do! 🙂
    – Beth