The sky has just begun to lighten; the robins start to sing the sun over the horizon. In bed beside me, Charlotte begins to fuss, as if on cue. She kicks her chubby little legs, squirming on her back, her face scrunched up as she grunts and strains. Her belly is tight: I try to massage it but I know my girl needs to get upright. I swing my legs over the edge of the mattress and hoist us both up to standing. Instantly, her body goes soft on my shoulder, her grunts quiet. She burps forcefully as I sneak out of the room, skirting the squeaky floorboards so as not to disturb the boys.
Downstairs where it is cool and quiet, I sit on the couch, baby up on my shoulder or reclined on my propped up legs, and write. Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, calls them morning pages. Others might simply call it journaling. In these early hours of the morning, bleary eyed, I fill 3 pages of my journal with stream-of-conscious writing, my smooth black Sharpie pen pushing the words from my brain onto the page.
Sometimes I write out a vivid dream; sometimes I start by writing my intentions for the day; sometimes it jumps around, from the banal to deeper thoughts and back again. And some days I get interrupted by a baby who won’t settle or a little boy who woke up and couldn’t find his mama. Some days I don’t make it to the couch at all, choosing precious sleep. On these days, morning pages may be noon pages, nap pages, whenever-I-get-20-minutes pages. Or they might not happen at all.
I’ve been writing morning pages, off-and-on, since my grade 13 year of highschool, when a creative writing teacher introduced them to us. I’ve gone long stretches without them. They’ve guided me through emotional crises, they’ve helped to unlock my creativity. They are like a talisman for me: on the days that I write them, I feel able to work on another piece of writing, to start a poem or a blog post. I find that getting that blurt out helps more cohesive sentences to flow. Those messy, disorganized first thoughts make way for thoughts more lyrical, more musical. During the stretches where I don’t write them, don’t journal at all, I am usually at my least creative. I cease to think of myself as a writer. Morning pages have become essential to the health of my muse, and by extension, the health of my soul.
How about you? Do you journal or write morning pages? What keeps your muse healthy?
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