Write Morning Pages by Hand

by Barbara Martin

in How to Tips

Not doing your Artist’s Way Morning Pages by hand? It’s surprising how many of us really resist this directive. Doing the daily pages and writing them out by hand is an important part of the process.

Author and teacher Julia Cameron gives all sorts of reasons why, but for me the critical aspect is that it means your brain goes directly through your body to the page and you express yourself as you feel the pen moving across the paper.

Take the Pressure Off

Don’t use the old fashioned write it by hand thing as an excuse to avoid starting your Morning Pages. Remember this is not a writing exercise per se, it has nothing to do with how well you write. Remember there is no right or wrong to what you say in the pages. It’s private, and it’s just for you. It is okay to write about how you don’t know what to write about or how you hate getting up early to do the pages or how your pen feels like a lead weight in your hand. It’s okay. Just get out the paper and something to write with and go with it for three pages.

Hand Writing is Expressive

To me, the most significant aspect of hand writing the pages is how unintentionally or unwittingly expressive the writing can be – not only for what it says in words, but for what it shows through its form. Through your handwriting you can make bold slash marks and ultra heavy underlines, you can hold the pen gingerly, you can tease out the words letter by letter or let them flow all in a big rush.

Later, much later, when you go back to review those pages, you will be astounded to see how the physicality of the letters echoes your mental process at the time they were written out. This is fascinating! It may even surprise you.

Hand Writing is Slow

Some of us feel the handwriting is too slow. Frustratingly slow. If you normally write using a keyboard you could probably go faster, if that is how you are accustomed to doing your writing. But the point here is not to go faster! You go at the speed of your thoughts.

The point is to place your self, written with care from heart to hand, as a habitual daily routine, on the page. The writing out aspect eventually becomes utterly absorbing, a reassuring daily practice with a methodical physical component.

Keyboard as Distance

The keyboard is a means of separation, a mechanical interface. This interface limits you to upper and lower case, italics, bold, underline, quotes, possibly fonts and sizes if you are real quick and super adept at using your word processor. Keyboarding requires your logical brain to interfere, recognize and impose these changes. But done by hand, stylistic changes happen of their own accord.

Typing insulates your hand from the heart-felt squiggle of joy, the big blot that happens, the wobbly letters that you barely dare to write, the ruined ink if you cry as you write, the lettering done so hard it cuts through the paper. This keyboard thing is just not the same as your hand running on autopilot on the page.

If Your Hand Hurts

“Oh,” you wail, “I am not used to writing by hand. My hand hurts when I have to hold the pen for three pages! What if I get a blister?!” Been there, done that, yes it can be uncomfortable and even hurt.

It’s mostly probably a muscle thing: Relax a little, try a fatter pen, or hold it at a different angle, or hold it less tightly or get a lighter weight pen … or just be patient with yourself for about ten days while you redevelop those writing muscles in your hand. With a little practice you won’t even notice the writing implement!

Resist the Pages, Resist Yourself?

Be patient with yourself, too, as you work through this little bit of resistance. Not doing three silly little pages! Might it be a form of self-sabotage? Won’t do the pages, won’t do the process, won’t have to … whatever.

Fighting writing the pages by hand is sometimes an indication of your inner turmoil at starting the Artist’s Way process. It can be exciting and exhilarating but it can also be scary. There is a big unknown ahead, true. What will you discover about yourself, your creativity, your outlook, your creative dreams?

To that, I can only say, it is a journey and you must be brave enough to give the trip the proper send-off, get off to a good start, and give the process a fighting chance of success. A main piece of activating that potential is showing up, being willing to do the Morning Pages every day and doing them by hand.

It’s Only Three Pages

Eventually, doing the Morning Pages will feel comfortable, both in terms of writing by hand and in terms of writing out your thoughts and whatever comes to mind during the three pages. Sometimes you have to trust the process. So in this, I would urge you to give the program a fair shot: “Leap, and the net will appear.”

In other words, quit arguing and do it! It’s just three pages! So what if your handwriting is crummy, the paper is wrinkled, the pencil is dull. Just keep writing for three pages. Do the three pages and then stop.

It’s “only” three pages!

Morning Pages: Essential Artist’s Way Tool

In her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron explains how the daily written pages are one tool, and the once-a-week Artist’s Date is another tool; the two work in tandem and are meant to become routine for you. Both are critical for the program and are integral parts of the process.

Resistance and Commitment

If you are dead set against doing the Morning Pages by hand as instructed, then perhaps it is a good time to re-evaluate your commitment to discovering or re-discovering your creativity? Maybe this is just not the right time for you to be doing this? But, if not now, when?

There are Over 30 Artist’s Way Posts at Reptitude!

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{ 1 comment }

Pearl February 26, 2016 at 10:53 am

I wonder if many of these tips are working on the assumption that hand-written fluency was developed before typing fluency, which is less and less true for younger generations.
I learned to write by hand, but I was never able to write expressively, or without frustration, or on autopilot!
I was introduced to typing as a child, and that is where I finally took off, and understood how to get things down on paper (or screen!). There is no autopilot with handwriting for me to revert to. I think there is benefit in getting your thoughts down according to the method that you ‘imprinted’ on first, connecting with your younger self, even if that isn’t what you use day to day now.
Typing does use your hands, just in a different way to holding a pen. Is playing a piano less musical, or expressive for a pianist, than holding a drum stick?
There is no more connection in writing using a stick that you wave about, than a keyboardist, they are both technological adaptions to allow us to record our thoughts, but there might be value in using the one we are best adapted to. In the next generation, for some people, that might be swyping. There have always been a few people who record themselves aloud, with a Dictaphone instead of writing.

The difference in styles was made very clear with the statement “You go at the speed of your thoughts.”, I don’t understand how this could be applied to my handwriting at all, and is one of my main problems!
I think so much faster than I can speak, still much faster than I can type, but better than handwriting, where I can never get a thought down on paper before I have lost and rewritten the thought several times over in my head, which means hand writing always feels like an extremely rehearsed, edited, perfectionist form of writing.
Typing, at it’s best, I can get down a thought and really examine my thoughts before I get a chance to second guess myself.
I think people’s mental voice is at different speeds, mine might be faster – I also read for pleasure around four times faster than other people. This has it’s problems, and typing really helps by slowing me down and helping me identify where I have been making assumptions, and working on biases that may have existed since childhood, but not if I can’t get my thoughts down with enough speed to examine the thought as a whole.

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