How I Do My Morning Pages

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How I Do My Morning Pages

  
  
  

Stephen P Smith Today we feature a Guest Post from Stephen P Smith, who writes about Productivity, Small Business and Social Media Literacy at The In Context Blog.

I have been doing a lot of writing and thinking about Journaling recently, mainly about how it impacts my daily work. I have come to the conclusion that the Morning Pages exercise that I do each morning is the most important and powerful part of my day. In this post I will describe exactly what it is that I do, how I do it, and how it impacts my goals, my work and my life. (I will mention in advance that this technique incorporates a couple of my own personal Productivity methods, links are provided in case you want to learn more.) Most of you reading this are probably familiar with the concept of the Morning Pages, but for those of you that are not: Morning Pages – Julia Cameron describes this practice in The Artist’s Way, an amazing resource for spurring your creativity and enhancing your life:

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages, they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind and they are for your eyes only. Occasionally colorful, more often than not Morning Pages are negative, fragmented, repetitive or bland. Good! Worrying about your job, the laundry, the weird look your friend gave you all that stuff distracts you from your creativity. It eddies through your subconsciousness and muddies your day. Get it on the page first thing in the morning and move on with your day with a freer spirit.
I have a set of four tools that I use to complete my Morning Pages exercise each day:
  • Notebook
  • Fountain pen with dark green ink (olive drab, really)
  • Fountain pen with grey ink (dries to look like pencil!)
  • Index cards
The notebook is, of course, where I actually write out, in longhand, the actual Morning Pages themselves. I always start with a little prayer, "Good morning and may God bless this day!" and then just dive in to whatever is on the top of my mind. This could be anything from a short re-cap of what happened yesterday or last night, a summary of a dream I had as I awoke, or thoughts on what the coming day will bring. Sometimes I complain about things in my life, or look to provide answers for problems that my Lovely ride or I may be facing. One of my rules though, is that if I write down a problem or a complaint of some kind I work to also write down an answer. Even if I just write "I am not sure what to do about this" over and over for a few lines it usually helps me to actually find the solution that I am looking for. Frequently ideas and inspirations will come to me as I write out whatever thoughts are in my head:
  • Blog post ideas
  • Product or service ideas
  • Plot ideas for the novel I am working on, or just a scene that might be interesting somewhere
  • Design ideas for a website that I am building
  • Menu ideas for dinner this week
Or any number of things. When this does happen, when an idea or solution to a problem comes to me from "out of the blue", I put down the pen with the green ink and pick up the one with the grey. First, I write down the idea on one of the blank index cards. Then I start writing again...

I am an Impulsive and Intuitive Person

...who wants to be more methodical in my thinking. I take up the different-colored pen and start writing about where I think that this idea or inspiration came from. I tend to make leaps in my thinking and not understand exactly how I came to make such a decision. It is my intention that writing and thinking in this way will not only help me learn and understand where these leaps of intuition come from but how to cultivate and encourage them to be even better. Sure, it takes a little longer to do my Morning Pages this way, but I believe that I am getting a little more out of it too. (and yes, this is my actual, everyday handwriting. I worked on it for years.)

morning pages sample image resized 600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I have finished writing all three pages of my Morning Pages entry I will typically have an index card or three to add to my Kanban Board that look something like this: 

action cards resized 600 

A Little Info on My Action Card System

Basically: Projects are Action Cards that contain more than one step. Actions are Action Cards that require fairly detailed reminder information. To Dos are action cards that contain, wait for it! Lists of short tasks or actions! Before you snort in derision at my pen-and-paper system, bear in mind: Yes, I know that these very same things can be recorded and managed in a digital application on the computer, in the cloud or on a smart-phone. I choose not to do it that way because I like writing with my fountain pen on paper. I have learned over five years of blogging about Productivity and Getting Things Done that the most efficient and productive tool is the one that you enjoy using - because if you don't enjoy it you won't use it. And then nothing gets done and you feel like a dope. (thank you for letting me get that out of my system!)

A Daily Investment for Serious Accomplishment

It usually takes me about an hour to 75 minutes to write out my Morning Pages and the Action Cards that they generate. I believe that this is a fantastic investment of time for preparing myself for the days activities. When I am done my mind is clear, my tasks and Next Actions for the day/week have been captured and I can start my day organized according to my strategic intent. The only time I skip a day is if I am planning on simply taking the day off and not doing anything constructive. I even take my notebook with me if I am traveling, I have found that being in a different place will often spark new ideas by the handful!

Thank you so much for your time. Please consider sharing some of your thoughts on your own Morning Pages experience in the Comments.

Please join our Morning Pages forum!
Learn more About Morning Pages here!

Comments

Stephen 
 
That was a terrific article with good suggestions. I've been writing morning pages for years and I often find that by the third page I've come up with some resolution to problems I've vented about. Your idea of getting those ideas down in a more orgnaized manner and using them as a guide toward more creativity and action seem like great ways to put my "money where my words are" Thank you for sharing.
Posted @ Wednesday, February 29, 2012 7:35 AM by Renee
Stephen..this article awas great! It would be fantastic to see more men do Journal Work of any kind! I have been doing it since I was in the third grade. Since then I do Ira Progoff's Intensive Journal Method, Stephanie Dowrick's Intimacy & Solitude, Janet Conner's Writing Down Your Soul & now I am up to Jula Cameron's new book The Prosperous Heart. I have met all three women including Christina Baldwin of Life Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual. All these methods of forms of Journaling I integrate to the Intensive Journal Process! All work for me and I share them with the world! I thought your experience was very creative and that to me the was 'name' of the game..Again Thank You Sir for sharing! Blessing!
Posted @ Thursday, March 01, 2012 12:17 AM by Albert Diaz Cruz
Wow - this is very informative and makes me wonder if I just wasn't utilizing 'morning pages' to the best of my abilities. Oh, yeah, I had all the problems written out, but I seemed to be spinning my wheels on the same thing every day - this system would give me the power to 'solve' the issues.  
 
 
 
Thank you, Stephen!
Posted @ Thursday, March 01, 2012 7:47 AM by Janet
Thank you Stephen! Looks like a lot of us Morning Pagers got lots of ideas from your article. If anyone wants to stop by, we have a Morning Pages forum going at http://srvshxndxz.tal.ki/30-day-morning-pages-challenge/ I started Morning Pages as a 30 Day Challenge and I am now a lifer! WriteOn! one and all.
Posted @ Thursday, March 01, 2012 6:09 PM by Mari
I really liked this take on Morning Pages. I may have to implement this action cards thing.
Posted @ Friday, March 02, 2012 12:54 PM by Natasha
Wow!Another fountain pen writer.That makes me happy and so enjoy all the inks on the mkt.plug for Levenger.com :)I too like the card idea and as I might be in my car and waiting in it as I pull writing materials out of my bag,cards could be good then also and there's always a plastic pocket in my materials.You have a great method going.Thank you for sharing your way to Morning Pages.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 06, 2012 6:31 PM by Mary McCarthy
Thank you all for the wonderful comments, I am glad that I was able to show something new. Please let me know if you'd like to learn more about the Action Cards method, I will be glad to help you put your own practice together.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 20, 2012 5:31 AM by Stephen P Smith
Thank you Stephen! The Morning Pages Cult is growing. We'd love to have more of your blog posts, videos about Morning Pages, action cards.... It has helped us jumpstart our journal writing practice!  
 
Posted @ Tuesday, March 20, 2012 7:58 AM by Mari
Great article, Stephen.  
 
I've been doing "morning pages" since I first started keeping a journal at age 12 (have not read The Artist's Way).  
 
I agree that one should journal however one feels comfortable -- there is no "right" way. You don't need fancy books or pens or any kind of system. 
 
What really is key is letting yourself be open to what comes in from the universe and not censoring yourself.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 27, 2012 8:07 AM by Dianna Huff
Hi Dianna, thank you for your advice on not censoring yourself, that is so very essential. Unlike the choice of pen or paper that you use, and I have used tons of different pens and journal books over the years. 
 
I prefer to use my fountain pens because I enjoy them, they make the experience more enjoyable - which makes it more useful and profitable.
Posted @ Tuesday, March 27, 2012 11:47 AM by Stephen P Smith
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