Challenge Journal #1: I am writing…occasionally.

My writing ritual is currently dormant. I began writing morning pages in a creative writing class in high school, a practice that teacher described as “taking your shadow out for coffee”; I think he was trying very hard to be poetic. To clarify, morning pages are a practice when you write for five to ten minutes every morning. The only rule is that you cannot stop writing. If you have nothing to write down, you just write “I am writing. I am writing.” until you have your next thought.

Personally, morning pages were a perfect use for all these stupidly small notebooks I had and was a great way to wake up. While the entries weren’t exactly enthralling material – I would venture to say 90% of my morning pages were to do lists or recollections of dreams I had – it allowed me to put myself in the writing mindset from the get-go. It was a productive ritual as much as it was therapeutic, as, every morning, I would plan my day and update a dream journal. Win-win.

This practice also helped me in a creative writing class my sophomore year of college, as every class period we were expected to walk in, write for ten minutes, and create a poem we had written. My practice of writing morning pages certainly helped me produce halfway decent poems, in that sense. As college progressed, though, sleep between the weekdays turned into more of a comma for the week rather than a period for each day (I love that metaphor). The more I began setting my alarm, the easier it was to cut out morning pages. I was so distracted by everything else I was doing at school that I barely even missed the practice. Now, a few years later, when I am confronted with the real world and all those fun questions about what I want to do in and with my life, I want to return to that ritual. School has been full of distractions that make writing anything beyond the essay due next week seem like too much. Morning pages helped put my into the writer mindset every morning; even if I didn’t write something substantial everyday, I had at least written something.

Of course, there are solutions to my lack of writing motivation and mindset. This semester, I have a 9 am class a brisk fifteen minute walk away from my apartment. If I can train my mind to focus, I can substitute the music I barely listen to on that walk for morning pages in my head. The practice of writing these morning pages, for me at least, it not about sitting in the sunlight holding a coffee and pouring my heart out onto paper. It’s a wake up practice for each day, it sparks a deeper internal awareness, and it makes me write, even when I have nothing to say, even if half of the entry is just “I am writing. I am writing.”

P.S. The picture is the spot in my high school where I would sit every morning to write my morning pages.

Meghan Brody

Meghan Brody. B.A. History & Writing. LSA Senior. Aspiring librarian.

5 thoughts to “Challenge Journal #1: I am writing…occasionally.”

  1. Hi Meggie,

    I like your post and I think that you are in a unique position in that you previously had a great ritual. I think this is great because you now know what an efficient ritual looks like for you (or at least old you). But you also face the challenge of ever getting your ritual to be THAT GOOD again, which could be aggravating or maybe devastating.

    Have you ever considered doing voice memos? I know that it might pose a social challenge if you decided to record them while you walk. But you could record voice memos while you are first waking up and going about your morning schedule. Perhaps the voice memos might not uninterrupted as your morning pages, but I think it might be a happy medium to fit into a changing lifestyle and schedule.

  2. Hi Meghan, first off, thanks for sharing!

    One line that really stuck out to me from your blog is “even if I didn’t write something substantial everyday, I had at least written something.” Life is all about the small victories, I think. You can’t wake up every morning and write The Great American Novel. And no one expects you to. But if you wake up every morning and know that you will be able to put your thoughts down on paper in order to clear your mind, then you have already started out doing something productive!

    It’s all about the small things, and those small things will add up to a big thing, but you have to start at the beginning.

    I realize I did not contribute much to your way of thinking, mostly just validated your beliefs, but I think you’ve got it figured out. And you have inspired me to start my own morning pages (though, I may not do it on the same day as my 8am, who knows!).

    Happy writing 🙂

  3. Hi Meghan, I love your description of morning pages and how vividly you can discuss them and your experiences with them throughout high school. Although I personally struggle to write in the mornings, I think it represents a great way to “wake-up” your mind and prepare for writing. However, I’m wondering if you have a specific spot where you plan to do your morning pages on campus. Looking forward to where you end up!!

  4. Hi Meghan! As Nicole mentioned, it seems as though you had a ritual that worked for you in the past. Those morning pages were a way for you to get your thoughts on paper at the beginning of the day. You knew that it worked for you, but you also had the time to do it. I think a great way to establish a new ritual (whether it be integrating morning pages back into your life or something else), is to think about all of the reasons why those morning pages worked for you. Writing them down, saying them out loud, and seeing what they are may be the key to establishing a new ritual that works with your new way of life (i.e. college). Maybe that’s a voice memo, as Nicole mentioned, or sticky notes on your laptop screen or physical desk (things that I have found that worked for me!).

    I think this will be a great way get back in the writing mindset that those morning pages did for you. Thanks for sharing and good luck 🙂

  5. Meghan — I really enjoyed reading this post. I found your venture of writing morning pages to be admirable, because as a night owl who absolutely loathes the morning hours and can’t even think until finishing at least one coffee, I can see how starting your day even just five minutes earlier to write down a frazzled thought can be therapeutic. What types of things do you write about? Do you ever look back on your morning pages? I’m starting to begin the journaling process, and would love to hear some inspiration of things you’ve written down in the past that have been most successful for you.

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