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.