“Morning Pages”

This month I’ve started doing Morning Pages — If you’re a writer you’ve heard of this journaling/freewriting exercise that’s supposed to encourage creativity. The idea is to just write anything that comes to mind, quickly and without stopping, until you have three pages. Because I’d been writer’s-blocked since some time in October, I felt desperate enough to give it a go, but thought I would start easy with just two pages a day. Even that much random writing is harder than it sounds. For evidence, take a glance at these excerpts…

DAY 1, Wednesday: (From first page) “I woke up early and grabbed some jeans and one of Brent’s Henley shirts from the laundry, so I could go out and get the paper. (Never did like to go out in a robe.) So there I was, in dirty / borrowed clothes AND white socks under my Toms, eating a banana with Nutella. Brent came in and asked whether I was taking Tipper to the vet for her shots. Ooh, look at the time! I jumped up, grabbed the leash and took off with her. We sat about 45 minutes in the waiting room, during which I felt embarrassed every time I noticed my white socks peeking out of my otherwise-snazzy Toms. Once back home, I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Wait, what’s that brown smudge over my left eyebrow? … Nutella?!? And another little spot by my mouth. It’s a good thing I didn’t see anyone I know… except, of course, the vet… close up…

(Page 2) “What to write about? Whatever comes to mind, I believe, is the principle. I can see it now: what I had for lunch, my to-do list, fragments of thoughts or intentions ricocheting off each other and the walls every time I see something shiny.

“Never mind, I’ll just write what I write and it will be fine. The whole point is to shake loose the fingers and brain, whether or not anything of immediate value falls out. So that’s two pages. Oops, just took off the pagination control and changed the style. Now it’s shorter. Shooting for two pages is kind of like trying to pray for 10 minutes: It sounds like forever and you keep looking at the clock. “Only two minutes?? Yow!” – until you get used to it, then eventually you could pray all day. Or to be realistic, at least longer than ten minutes. Until you see something shiny, right?”

Day 2, Thursday: (Bottom of Page 2) “Well, what next? I’m sort of eager to get back to [the book I was reading], but I still have several lines to write here. Here I go again, filling up space by saying how much space I have left to fill.”

Day 3, Friday: (Opening) “Good morning, Morning Pages! I do feel as if we’re getting better acquainted now. This morning I’ve had breakfast, looked at the paper/worked the Sudoku, had my quiet time with coffee, fed and played with Tipper, and got the laundry started. All by 9:00. Yep, I think this wacky concept of ‘structure’ is going to help me a lot…

(Bottom of Page 1) “….Speaking of careers, I’m still bumfoozled as to whether or not I have God’s calling to write. (Just had to stop and add “bumfoozled” to the Word dictionary. Sheesh.)…

(Page 2) “…The writers’ blogs / conferences / coaches all talk about ‘fitting in’ so as to be marketable… and I may have taken that as a cue to imitate others. Well, not exactly, but I do notice a nagging little prompt in the back of my head, that I ‘should’ be like the successful authors. Even though the coaches also counsel against imitating. Agents, as Brooks says, can smell a ripoff a mile away. (Added “ripoff” to dictionary. What is this world coming to?)…”

By Monday, I was able to blast through two pages in just half an hour. Still slow, but way better than my first couple of attempts.

If you want to write but have trouble settling on something to say, I recommend trying the “Morning Pages” routine. You never know when a great idea will appear on the page.

I’m still waiting, of course…

Thanks for reading,

I’m linked up with my Soli Deo Gloria sisters over at Jen’s.

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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12 Responses to “Morning Pages”

  1. marlecem says:

    Oh Jan, you make me smile! You DO have a gift for writing NO DOUBT what Jesus wants to do with it well sometimes that just takes more time than what we would like. I love reading even about your Nutellaed up face, hee hee!


  2. “You never know when a great idea will appear on the page.” So true.

    Sometimes I think I have a great idea but I just can never get it in the right words, but other times with no idea what I want to say, the words end up coming together almost on their own. Our responsibility is just to let things flow how they will, and let God control if they’re helpful to anyone else or not. Glad you’re sticking with it!


  3. Two things. Well, three. I started my sporadic time outside with just my journal some time last year (prompted by reading God in the Yard–tab on my blogsite). Anyway, the author’s idea was to take a ‘sabbath on the page’–stop what you’re doing and write.
    I found that actually writing–i.e. pencil/pen and notebook–facilitated much more thoughts flowing. I think it’s the kinesthetic connection in our brain. Maybe you could try that.
    The more I spend time in this mode the more I’m amazed at what God brings out of me–it’s like I really don’t know what I think until I start writing (hope that makes sense).
    And ‘bumfoozled’? Totally gonna steal that word.


  4. This popped up on my FB newsfeed just today, so I quickly came over to read, because I’ve been wondering for a very long time about writing: should I, am I any good, but mostly, HOW do I get started!? This is a good prompt from you and Him! And I’m with Jody, bumfoozled may just be THE word!!


    • Thanks for commenting, Margo! I’m always happy to cooperate with God’s prompts. And it’s really fun when friends like those out-of-the-way words that my younger son dismisses as “old people expressions!” Personally I think they’re more expressive than a lot of current “student-speak.”


  5. I’m really a fan of being your own self. Because God created you to be you and if He wanted you to be like someone else, you wouldn’t be here. And then I would be so very sad. Seriously, though, I’m learning to pray first — to see what God would have me do regardless of whether it is or isn’t what another person is doing. 2 people could do the same thing. One might be wildly successful, the other not. But if it’s what God has you doing, it doesn’t really matter about the success. What matters is the obedience.


    • You’re so right, Jen — each one of us has a unique purpose. And as you point out, if I follow God with writing, my words will somehow get to the right people. With that in mind, I’m learning to pray AND–especially– to listen for guidance.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Love ya…


  6. Anonymous says:

    Jan, I’m impressed by all your thoughts, you have a cute way of expressing yourself. God has blessed with a lot of talent. Have missed reading your page. Love and keep up the good work. Mom


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