I snooze my alarm a lot.
I leave the bin to get to crisis level of full before I empty it.
I still watch Big Brother.
I’m in a tiny little rubber dinghy sailing a sea of bad habits.
But in amongst the waves, I have one good thing I do every day.
I write morning pages.
Yes, that is a somewhat nauseating thing to say.
But I promise I am also a huge slob. I promise! I hate blogs where they claim that a normal morning’s routine includes drinking a green juice, doing a 2 hour weight training session in a full face of make-up, girl-bossing through a perfectly bullet-journalled to-do list, meditating and effortlessly writing seventeen blog posts, before walking to eat some kind of ancient grain-based salad with a grandparent, leafletting for the Labour party on the way.
I hate that. We all hate that. I'm breaking into a sweat just THINKING about getting all that done of a morning. I wrote something here about how if you can get out of bed most days, you’re doing great.
But anyway. Writing my pages is my one ting I do every morning. I’ve been doing them for a little over a year now and I just bloody love ‘em.
They’re a concept from a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which is kind of a guide for rediscovering and nurturing one’s creativity. It’s here that I have to shamefully admit that I’ve only read a coupla chapters properly but will still wax lyrical about how great doing the pages is. Yep, in harping on about how great the morning pages are, I’m one of those charlatans who listens to one single and no album tracks and claims to be a number one fan. This is an honest blog, peeps, I wouldn't lie to ya.
But I just think they’re so bloody great that I can’t not harp on about them. They're easy, they're accessible and personally I've found them to be really helpful, too. All you do is wake up and put pen to paper for three pages. That’s it. Just you, a biro, a notebook and some continuous prose. You just write whatever’s in your head. Whatever’s spinning through that brilliant little brain of yours. Sometimes I write about dreams. Sometimes I write about the day ahead. Sometimes I write about what happened yesterday or how hungry I am or how sleepy I feel or just lines and lines of ‘I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write’.
And simple as they seem, I think they've helped me out a lot.
Firstly, I feel they're really good for relieving my anxiety. I think journalling is a pretty well-renowned way of sorting one's head out and I don't think doing the morning pages is any different. If I'm anxious about something, or have gone to bed worrying, it's pretty natural for that topic to be the first thing that comes to mind and thus it goes into the morning pages. And I figure it all out on the paper. Think it through. Work out what's troubling me. Weirdly, I find that when I can see what's worrying me laid out in lines, it all seems a lot more manageable- it's there in black (or sometimes blue or sometimes whatever random felt-tip pen I can lay hands on quickly) and white and it's just words and no it isn't scary and yes you will get through it. Problem shared, problem halved type-o-thing. It eases my worried little head first thing in the morning and makes me feel like I can get through whatever's making me anxious.
And as well as my anxious thoughts, I find that the morning pages give me the physical space to just get out anything I'd rather not think about for the rest of the day. Be it a horrible dream or something I'm still fuming about from a few days ago or any other kind of ill-feeling, I get the chance to write it all down and literally close the book on the issue. Once it's out on the paper, I find it doesn't bother me for the rest of the day. I remember in that The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron writes that you should file all your pages away and not look at them again, but I gave myself a pass to look at anything older than three months. I was looking back at some pages from this time last year where I'd had a whole conversation with myself about how I shouldn't be angry with my boyfriend. I went from full-on anger to full-on adoration on one side of A5. And aside from proceeding to tell him about it a year later (and then broadcasting it on the internet), the morning pages allowed me to work out any irrational feelings I was having and then I didn't bring them into the rest of the day with me.
And getting the chance to read back through my old morning pages is quite the poignant lil experience. Although it isn't a journal per se, it's been pretty interesting to see what's been at the forefront of my mind over the past year and a bit. Little by little the food and diet and weight stuff has been replaced by other things, things that matter. I'm picking up on new themes now that crop up in my morning pages and so I find it's a great way of checking in with myself: if I find myself writing about how tired I am first thing in the morning, I know I should be committing to a better sleep routine, if I find myself anxious about this or that, I know to explore that issue further and do what I can to figure it out, and if I find that I'm skipping the exercise entirely, I know that I'm not looking after myself properly because I'm not dedicating time to stuff I love. Recently I've been finding that I keep writing about how I worry that I'm not doing the pages 'right'. I worry that I overthink them and that I treat them too much like a journal. And therein lies the twofold beauty of the exercise: a) you can't do the morning pages wrong, you just do 'em and b) it's letting me in on secrets from my subconscious. I worry that I'm not doing the pages right because I worry that I don't do a lot of things right. And so that's something I'm trying to fix. Cheers, pages.
And as for the creative bit? Weirdly, although nurturing creativity is the point of the pages, it's kind of the last thing that springs to my mind when I think about the exercise's benefits. I think there've been a few times where an idea for a blog post has sprung to mind whilst writing my pages or I've figured out a way to round off some writing, but mainly, it serves as my little creative boost for the day. One of my new year's resolutions was to write more and by doing the pages, even though I'm not scribbling down anything revolutionary or interesting, it's my tiny little creative tick for the day. I wrote something. Yes, it was about how much I like raisins or how I need to make sure I buy cotton wool today, but I sat there, put pen to paper and wrote.
And that makes for a good morning.