The Morning Purge… I Mean Pages

The Morning Purge… I Mean Pages

I’ve been working through a great book called The Artist’s Way for about five months now, which provides a self-directed course on breaking through artistic blocks and cultivating creativity. One of the most useful ideas is the “morning pages,” which consist of a daily, three-page word dump, wherein you write out anything and everything that comes to mind.

They’re a total pain.

It’s time consuming and half the time I spend at least a paragraph or two jotting variations on “I hate the morning pages.” Often I write two paragraphs, say “that’s enough,” and then return to them five minutes later, compelled by a sense of guilt and obligation. The idea is three pages, every day, no matter how good or bad. Just trust me and do them, says the book, and I do.

And because of that, something pretty interesting happens with surprising regularity:

  1. The first page or so involves me complaining about a really specific thing I’m going through that morning.
  2. Then I get bored of that thing, and spend another half page writing about my efforts to transition into some other topic.
  3. Then I pick up a thread — some larger artistic theme or idea that transcends the specific day’s woes. And I’m like, “whoa.”

The bigger idea is usually there all along, but it takes a certain amount of plodding and germination to let it emerge.

And, like clockwork, that connection to something larger than my specific woes helps give me the space I need to create on a given day. I can’t do anything when I’m stuck in my head, and I think that’s the big idea behind the morning pages.

It’s a matter of staring down your neuroses for a while until they slink away.

I highly recommend it.


Ryan Melsom has a PhD in literary studies and has spent over twenty years working in communications, marketing, web design, and writing. His second book Spendshift: 100 Lazy Hacks to Rock Your Finances is now available exclusively on Amazon. For more by Ryan, follow him on Twitter @lintropy, or on his Facebook page.

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