“The only way to compose myself and collect my thought is to set down at my table, place my diary before me, and take my pen into my hand. This apparatus takes off my attention from other objects. Pen, ink, and paper and a sitting posture are great helps to attention and thinking.” ~ John Adams on preparing to defend the soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre (1770)
Journaling is a habit I have had for well over thirty years.
I think it began when my old mentor, Bern, referenced Socrates’ statement about an unexamined life not being worth living. I was later influenced by The Artist’s Way course by Julia Cameron .
Now, I am starting The Artist’s Way course over again, from the very beginning. Like re-reading Dickens or Twain, sometimes you need to come back with fresh eyes to something that has become very familiar.
I started doing Morning Pages in earnest on April 18, 2001.
I still have that journal. I remember many mornings arising way before dawn. I sat in my recliner with a hundred pound boxer mix snoring on my lap. Atop the boxer was a lap desk holding a composition book. Not exactly the recommended arrangement, but my dog was happy.
So I wrote on.
Three pages. That was the task. That was the task every morning: to start the day with words on paper and just to keep writing until the pages were filled.
It typically started with the usual ramblings about life, what I did yesterday, the heavy dog on my lap and how loudly he snores, random squirrels running through my brain, and so on. I wrote anything that came into my head just to get the juices flowing. There was no “real” writing here, just a Brain Dump as the author calls it.
Then…POW! Something practically would fall onto the page, and I was shocked.
“Where the hell did THAT come from?”
I would just keep writing. The dog would moan and shift his weight, and I would simply balance my pad and lap desk and write on.
“This is good!” I might hear myself saying.
More often than not, though, it really was just a dump: getting the crap out of my head so that I could get on with the real creative work of the day. I just keep writing. Writing. Writing. Because that is the way that Morning Pages work.
Now, after 18 years, I’m starting over.
I’m starting over and doing the entire 12-week The Artist’s Way course again. It feels both familiar and oddly fresh, like I’m visiting an old neighborhood that seems just the same but different. Of course the neighborhood has not changed.
I will be posting about this return trip through the course over the next 12 weeks. I think it is going to be a very interesting trip.
You can get a copy of The Artist’s Way course by Julia Cameron by clicking here .