March 19, 2019
Note From Rochelle
Tomorrow is the first day of spring. Thanks to longer days, warmer weather, and melting snow, I’m beginning to feel a bit more hopeful. After months of snow, ice, and frigid temperatures, I’m looking forward to taking walks outside again.
Today’s tip talks about how morning pages can transform your life and writing.
The Power of Morning Pages
by Rochelle Melander
Since the beginning of winter, I have been journaling every morning. Though I’ve done this from time to time throughout my life, I am always surprised at how much it helps me. I feel more grounded. Because part of my practice includes noting what I am grateful for, I’m more likely to see the positive in each day. And, I get new ideas for writing.
Julia Cameron was the first person to recommend doing morning pages: write three sloppy pages about anything first thing in the morning. In her article, “Transform Your Life One Morning at a Time,” Cameron says, “Writing Morning Pages clears the psychic debris standing between us and the day ahead. Done consistently, it will alter the trajectory of our lives.” (Spirituality and Health, November/December 2018, p. 28)
I have been writing morning pages for nearly three months. When I get bored with the practice, I’ve found that trying an intriguing exercise, structure, or format will keep me moving forward with the pages. I’ve used the following tools with my Dream Keepers Writing groups for years—and perhaps they’ll help you get inspired to write more, too!
When students don’t know what to write, I invite them to make a list. Why? Because we write lists every single day—they’re easier to compose than an article or a short story. In the novel Winterhouse by Ben Guterson, Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle send her to the Winterhouse hotel for Christmas. Throughout this book and its sequel, The Secrets of Winterhouse, Elizabeth makes lists in her journal as a way of coping with new things in her life. Most of Elizabeth’s lists are a bit snarky, so in book two she decides to try making lists of happier things.
If writing paragraphs gives you a panic attack, set the goal of writing a list every morning in your journal. And instead of listing everything you have to do today, try listing the people and events you are grateful for. Or how about making a list of the qualities you like in yourself? Or your best friend?
Policies and Procedures
Many of my colleagues earn their incomes writing technical documents, like policy and procedure manuals. I’ve often wondered if there are individuals who write policy and procedure manuals for their homes or families. (It sure would save a lot of time if I could answer the questions my children ask with, “Check the manual!”)
If you’re not sure how to fill up your morning pages, how about writing a procedure manual for surviving winter in the north woods? Or maybe you need a policy manual for dealing with Girl Scout cookies. (Who am I kidding? That would be two words: eat them!) Whatever you do, have fun composing your policy or procedure document.
I envy scientists, with their experiments and data and formats for reporting the information. It all seems so concrete. Sometimes I fantasize about keeping a science journal on the behavior of teenagers in captivity (that is, my kids stuck in the house during winter). This year, I’ve been privileged to teach Poetry in Your Backyard with educators at the Milwaukee Public Museum. As part of our presentation, we talk about observing and show the students examples of science journaling.
We don’t need to be scientists to use our journal to make observations. We can make notes about the view from our front window, the flowers on our dining room table, or the happenings in our lives. What do you need to track in your life? Could you make observations and keep track of it in your journal?
What are some creative ways that you have done morning pages?
Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach, experienced publishing strategist, and artist educator. She is the author of eleven books, including the forthcoming, Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. She provides solutions for people who feel stuck, overwhelmed or confused by the publishing process. She is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that supports teens in finding their voice and sharing their stories. Sign up for her Write Now! Tips Ezine at https://www.writenowcoach.com.