Why I Stopped “Morning Pages”

Have you ever heard of morning pages? They are one of the basic tools laid out in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I recently had a writing instructor recommend her students read the book and begin the practice.

The morning pages practice is simple: rise early each day to write three pages “of longhand writing, strictly stream of consciousness” (10). One should use the space/time to get the gunk of life out of one’s head, down on the page, and move on from there. The book has many examples of the miracle of morning pages, about students who had started the practice and found success in their professional field, crediting morning pages for the breakthrough.

I was completely enamored with the idea. It was presented that if I could just journal for three pages every morning, well, then I’d start writing in a meaningful way and actually become a writer. Though I already had a pretty consistent journaling practice, this was a more structured take on it.

Since last fall until about two weeks ago, I was very dedicated to the morning pages. I would wake up at four AM before my twelve hour shifts to journal. I would journal on my days off my day job. I would sometimes write more than three pages. I would pull a tarot card and use that as a prompt. I felt very productive.

Can you guess what I wasn’t doing? I wasn’t writing anything creatively. No inspiration appeared “seemingly out of nowhere” (17). In fact, my morning pages turned into me writing that I was anxious about not writing. I was talking myself through it being ok that I wasn’t writing creatively. I was making excuses, writing, ‘well, at least I’m reading a lot right now.’ I would journal and then think ‘ok well there’s that writing done for today…now to go do my work/errands/chores/exercise/etc’ with no space left for the writing that I actually wanted to produce!

I talked this through with a writerly friend. About how journaling/morning pages was actually holding me back from writing. About just doing the damn thing and actually writing. I decided to say fuck it to morning pages and put my journal aside.

That was a week and a half ago.

Since opening up that time in my life — and giving my headspace a break of the ‘checked box’ that was morning pages — my creativity and desire to write creatively has grown. I still get up at four AM on a work day, but now I produce story. I read more short stories. I’ve nearly finished my own short story. I am doing. And that’s the real miracle.

…but I called it.

I’m taking an online writing course which includes bi-weekly assignments, which, since this is only the second week, I believe, includes regular prompts for free writing.  Here was the assignment for last week:

“Write a story using that phrase as your first line and include a twist at the end. Keep your story to 300 words or less. Write as tight as possible, that is, really select words with care. Trim out the extras. Add dialogue.”

Admittedly, I didn’t add much dialogue, but I like how my little story turned out.  I love to read character driven apocalyptic/dystopian sci-fi but rarely get a decent idea in that genre, so I was pleased that this idea showed up.  Who knows, maybe there is more here!

I’ll be sharing my assignments here as we go along. Continue reading “…but I called it.”

The Muse Works When You Do

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Hilma af Klint

I just spent the weekend in New York City.  Kara, one of my best friends/travel buddies, and I explored the shit outta that town.  We traipsed and Lyfted our way from Spanish-Italian cafe to French bistro to Korean small plates through Central Park, to the MoMa and Guggenheim, in search of great food, beer, coffee, art, ice cream, and pizza.

What always blows my mind about travel, beyond the obvious benefit of ‘seeing the world,’ is the doors it breaks down surrounding my creativity.  Which is an easier sentiment to have while listening to the Dark Side of the Moon and contemplating Hilma af Klint than sitting in my robe in my bed back home.  It’s a fleeting feeling I’m constantly yearning for, yet what I learned on this trip is creativity is not actually one fleeting moment.

Continue reading “The Muse Works When You Do”

daily tarot card: Ten of Wands

ten of wands
ten of wands, morgan greer tarot

This figure in the ten of wands carries a heavy load; they’re trying to accomplish a lot in one go.  This card implies that sharing the load or cutting the load down would be useful.  What can I release?

The ten of wands is a good reminder for someone like me who just wants to do it all, and do it all in one go.  It’s like a massive to do list, and being anxious and amped and just wanting it ALL DONE.

This card really is a call out, a reminder to seek balance, to not storm through and steamroll over everyone else and their plans and ideas.  It reminds me that its alright to do a little bit at a time, focusing my energy instead of spreading it thin.


I am blogging my experiences here with Beth Maiden’s Alternative Tarot Course which asks students to draw a card each day, reflect on it, complete weekly readings, and other assorted exercises.

The Reader’s Reading, myself as a tarot reader

reader's reading
the tarot reader’s reading

This is the week one reading from the Alternative Tarot Course.  I’ve moved away from larger spreads (and, really, this one isn’t even that big) because I feel like I can gain a myriad of insights from just one card at a time and I don’t need six cards telling me different things at the same time.  However, Beth Maiden does craft my favorite spreads, so I’m happy to be re-entering the spread game with her at the helm.

1. About me in general: what is my most important characteristic?  Three of Cups

Connection: making connections, feeling connection, celebrating connections, and focusing on the good stuff.  Yes, tarot isn’t all roses, but even the messy stuff brings about big shifts if we are honest with ourselves.

2. What strengths do I already have as a tarot reader, what am I bringing to this course?  XX, Judgment

Plugging in, reconnecting with the small, quiet parts of self, and analyzing the task or question before me.

3. What limits do I feel as I start this course?  Three of Wands

I feel like this is a warning in the sense that it’s easy to get carried away, in looking beyond the shore and forget that life is what is right here, in front of me.

4. What key lesson can I learn on my developmental journey with tarot?  XIV, Temperance

I mean, this is the perfect card for a tarot journey.  As Lindsay Mack says, Temperance is “where we learn, holy shit!  When I’m not operating from ego, spirit drops in even better than I imagined, even better than I dreamed.”

5. How can I be open to learning and developing on this journey?  King of Swords

Straight up connecting with my eternal student, airy, swords-y mind.  Making a plan of attack, and staying dedicated to learning.

6. What is the potential outcome of my tarot journey?  Ten of Wands

Letting go of what no longer serves me, to tackle tasks with my full head and heart.

The conclusion of the week 1 lesson is to select a card from this spread which most represents my tarot journey, and to keep it close through this course.  While the King of Swords may most represent a student and dedication to the course, I feel that Temperance is the card I most want to emulate during this time.  I love how Temperance tasks ego with taking a back seat, how Temperance has struck a balance between spiritual and earthly pleasures, how Temperance is a symbol of what is Right.  Temperance is why we humans bother with the tarot at all: to get a glimpse, a notion, of the divine journey beyond and outside ourselves.


I am blogging my experiences here with Beth Maiden’s Alternative Tarot Course which asks students to draw a card each day, reflect on it, complete weekly readings, and other assorted exercises.