Decades ago, my college writing teacher (who taught me as much about believing in my gifts as she did about English) introduced me to The Artist’s Way, and the tools I found in it changed my life (I started writing fiction, for one). I used them consistently for years, and I still have Artist Dates with my Self every few weeks. I used to do Morning Pages every morning before I did anything other than sit up in bed. I did them for over 10 years, and it would take me around half an hour to finish those three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. When I went through the old notebooks of them, recently, I found what I already knew, they were full of pettiness and smallness, but the last few lines of almost every entry held pearls of wisdom, epiphanies, and breakthroughs for me. Writing Morning Pages every day served me really, really well.
And then I had kids, and my early mornings did not feel my own. I stopped doing the Morning Pages. I missed them, but it was too stressful to try to predict when the kids would wake up so that I could have my half hour of uninterrupted writing in peace. And I was too tired. And then, when they got older and had to go to school, I preferred the pleasure of having them come, squirming into our bed with us, first thing. I still do.
I toyed with the idea of starting them again. Except that I already get up crazy early, and I only manage to get the sleep I need each night because I stay vigilant about it. Realistically, it wouldn’t work for me right now. Maybe in another decade.
Still, I have been trying it out, in my own way, which means that I do them at odd times during my day. There’s a part of me that hates that, it’s not the RIGHT way to do them, and I can’t harness the unconscious energy of my sleep when I do them over lunch.
And yet… I love to do them, I love to watch my petty thoughts spill out onto the page instead of occupying me all day. I become free of them, and free to let the thoughts that hide beneath the surface, rise into my consciousness. And I, still, consistently, find the pearls of wisdom, the epiphanies and breakthroughs in those last lines.
Doing the Morning Pages the wrong way is a fabulous means for me to access my inner wisdom.
But the Morning Pages have also taught me a lesson that I have learned before, one I can learn over and over again (and one I make a point of teaching). They reminded me that the tools I use are meant to serve me, and that means that I must adapt them so that I can use them, so that I can benefit from them. I must make them my own.