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How Do I…Morning Pages?

I’ve received a number of questions about morning pages recently, and I thought it might be helpful to share, and answer, some of the most common here. For many of your questions, there are no definitive answer because the execution of Morning Pages is a highly personal process. But I do have specific guidelines. Many fellow artists can offer guidance by sharing their own preferences, but I do hope my responses are helpful to you.

Q: If I keep a dream journal and write morning pages, could I use my dream journal as my morning pages?

I believe in writing the Morning Pages first, then jotting down notes about your dreams. The danger of jotting down a dream journal first is that it uses time and energy better spent on the facts of daily life.

Q: What do I do with my Morning Pages notebooks? Do I have to keep them? Should I throw them out? Should I reread them?

Keeping or tossing Morning Pages notebooks is a highly personal choice. I have had people shred, toss and burn their Morning Pages. I have had other people hold onto them for years. I myself save my Morning Pages, although I seldom reread them.

Q: I work better on a computer. Can I type my Morning Pages, instead of writing them out?

It's worth noting here that, for our purposes, velocity is the enemy. It takes longer to write by hand, and this slowness connects us to our emotional life.

Q: I have ADD/ADHD. Am I a lost cause for The Artists Way and Morning Pages?

Typically, Morning Pages are quite fragmented, giving the impression of ADD. Paradoxically, the fragmented pages yield coherent thought to those who do suffer from ADD.

Do please share your advice and preferences in the comments below.

13 Comments on "How Do I…Morning Pages?"

  1. Profile photo of Jonathan

    Thanks, Julia. I agree that doing morning pages by hand is much better. Not just because it slows you down but also because it’s too easy to get into “editor mode” on the computer. I find that I can actually make more progress on any kind of writing if I do it by hand first. If I try to compose something on the computer, I frequently just get stuck writing and rewriting the first paragraph or two.

    One question I have is: how important is it to do the morning pages first thing in the morning? Being the parent of two small children, I find it difficult to get up early enough, so I generally end up doing them after I get back from dropping the oldest one off from school or after lunch even sometimes. And I’ve often kind of felt like maybe doing them before I go to bed instead of right when I wake up. I used to have a lot of trouble getting to sleep because my mind would be full of stuff, and I think getting it out on paper would’ve helped. These days, though, I’m just so exhausted from being a full-time parent that I generally fall asleep pretty quickly. But even so, can morning pages work as evening pages instead?

    I’ll admit that I haven’t had too much trouble with doing them as late morning or early afternoon pages myself. In fact, the morning pages are the easiest part of the whole course for me. I hardly ever have trouble filling my three page allotment, and in fact many times I could easily go on for five or six pages. And I also find that I get answers in my morning pages from time to time. 😀

  2. I have been writing morning pages for several years now. I live in an active household so I find it best to get up early before anyone else so I have quiet. Sometimes I go back to bed after writing my pages. I make myself a cup of coffee and curl up in my favorite chair. I use the minimal amount of light in order to see. I don’t want to wake myself up too much. Then I just write. I actually look forward to getting out of bed in order to write my morning pages.

    • Terry, I agree. I have come to cherish morning pages. I have only been doing it for a couple months, however I feel “off” on the days I do not do them. I also experience more clarity in my thinking and decisions throughout the day. I’m also much more irritable if I miss a morning. I am shocked at how much Morning Pages have changed my daily living.

      Have you missed days? How do the days that you miss affect you?

  3. I love my morning pages. Retirement allows me time to journal and write memoir. Morning pages accepts the flotsam and jetsam of the previous day leaving room for cleaner clearer writing. I look forward to the quiet early morning time with cat and coffee, my favourite pen and pages. Long ago my inner critic gave up and no longer influences the content. Quantity not quality is obvious when I reread some of my morning pages still others surprise with their content and they are highlighted or dog eared for future consideration.
    Thanks Julia for morning pages and much more.

  4. My question is…

    Do morning pages have to be done in the morning? What if I pull an all-nighter and didn’t sleep all night? Or how about my friend who works graveyard shifts and mornings are the end of his work day?

    Can morning pages be done just when the person happens to wake up to start his day?

    • I am curious what Julia’s answer will be on this. Personally, I do not think they have to be done in the actual morning, but in the “morning” for that individual person. So if someone sleeps during the day and wakes up at 4:00pm to start their day – that is when they would do them.

  5. Pat Snelling says:

    I taught many students with ADHD and ADD, and yes they have a difficult time focusing on a project such as “Morning Pages.” BUT — Morning Pages (along with Reading) are powerful tools to help the student focus on the next task.

    The brain is like a muscle (I think you said this several time Julia) and just like playing basketball, it takes practice. Erle Stanley Gardner (who wrote Perry Mason novels) said: “The mind is a horse. It would rather have you chase it around the pasture than go to work. Therefore tie it up–make it work while it is supposed to be working until it gets the habit.”

    I would make my ADD students write BEFORE we would start the lesson. It seriously helped them focus. (Of course Exercise is another great tool to help ADD students focus.) Don’t let ADD stop you. Instead, do it BECAUSE you have ADD. Many times my ADD students were the highest achievers.

  6. Being the Human to 2 Cats, I have no problem getting up at 5 am, as the older of the 2 Cats has long believed in an early breakfast. ;-D

    Just began Morning Pages this week.

    I shower, feed the cats, then do my morning pages, all before 6am, when I turn on the computer, and my favorite radio talk show, and prepare breakfast for myself.

    Seems to be working out alright, so far.. ;-D

  7. Profile photo of dsw67

    Glad I found this post. I was going to ask how important it is to hand write morning pages vs typing them. I’m on a computer all day so typing is fairly easy (and painless). I find writing hurts my hands, and I get depressed when looking at my bad handwriting. On the upside, it gives me a good reason to use the Palomino Blackwing pencils I purchased to compose music with.

  8. Unbelievable!
    Dear Julia, I listened to your lecture at Institute for Integrative Nutrition and thought to myself – no way I am doing this, yes it sounds like a lovely idea, but I NEED my sleep!
    Well I ended up waking up here and there tired, but unable to fall back asleep due to an unstoppable flow of thoughts, so I would sit and write my morning pages 🙂 Not at all regularly, but the last one on Easter Sunday morning was truly amazing and inspirational. Upon rereading the pages, I realized that I literally solved three problems for which I could not find a solution, and ended up writing some very interesting short work. Truly a meditation through writing! Thank you! I am so grateful to have found you via IIN.

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