As we prepare for what may be one of the most challenging steps on our journey of artistic recovery, the spotlight is on the importance of the morning pages. Julia states over and over that they are not optional, or only when the mood strikes us. She strongly urges that they should become a daily habit.
I know how hard this is, and not only because of scheduling. The morning pages, as I have been discussing, have an uncanny way of revealing truths to us; sometimes truths we would rather not see. Julia explains, “I have noticed that many tend to neglect or abandon the pages [or suddenly become inexplicably busy! – B.] whenever an unpleasant piece of clarity is about to emerge. If we are, for example, very, very angry but not admitting it, then we will be tempted to say we feel ‘okay about that.’ The morning pages will not allow us to get away with this evasion. So we tend to avoid them.
“If we have the creeping feeling that our lover is not being totally honest with us,” she writes, “the morning pages are liable to bring this creepy possibility up—and with it, the responsibility for an unsettling conversation. Rather than face this mess, we will mess up on doing the morning pages.
“By contrast, if we are suddenly and madly in love, the morning pages may seem threatening. We don’t want to puncture the fragile and shiny bubble of our happiness. We want to stay lost in the sea of a blissful us, rather than be reminded that there is an I in the we (or an ‘eye’ in the we) that is temporarily blinded.”
She sums up, “In short, extreme emotions of any kind – the very thing that morning pages are superb for processing – are the usual triggers for avoiding the pages themselves…
“Chekov advised, ‘If you want to work on your art, work on your life.’ That’s another way of saying that in order to have self-expression, we must first have a self to express. That is the business of the morning pages: ‘I, myself, feel this way…and that way … and this way… No one else need agree with me, but this is what I feel.
As you may recognize by now, the lines between morning pages and prayer may seem a bit blurry. More about that next week!