Morning Pages


According to Dorothea Brande, to learn to write easily and smoothly, you should . . .

. . . rise half an hour, or a full hour, earlier than you customarily rise. Just as soon as you can—and without talking, without reading the morning’s paper, without picking up the book you laid aside the night before—begin to write. Write anything that comes into your head: last night’s dream, if you are able to remember it; the activities of the day before; a conversation, real or imaginary; an examination of conscience. Write any sort of early morning reverie, rapidly and uncritically. The excellence or ultimate worth of what you write is of no importance yet. As a matter of fact, you will find more value in this material than you expect, but your primary purpose now is not to bring forth deathless words, but to write any words at all which are not pure nonsense. The next morning begin without rereading what you have already done. Remember: you are to write before you have read at all. The purpose of this injunction will become clear later. Now all you need to concern yourself with is the mere performance of the exercise. (Becoming a Writer, 1934/1961, p. 72-3)

To me this process speaks of “freedom” from the critical editorial self that resides within—and not so deep within that she cannot pop up at any moment to disrupt. I am surprised and pleased at some of the things I have written while following (somewhat) Brande’s advice. I can sometimes write “morning pages” at different times of the day—able to set aside my regimented self to flow without restrictions.

I first became aware of “morning pages” during a reading of Julia Cameron’s book, The Artists’ Way, which I just had to own. The copy I was reading was borrowed.