Morning Pages, Dark and Light

Morning pages are the first-thing-in-the-morning writing you do if you have ever read Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way. Cameron describes morning pages as “. . . three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.”

For years, when I wrote morning pages, I sat, wrote, and shredded them. They were too dismal and painful for anything else. Then I began to keep them and read them every now and then. To my relief, I was getting less angry, bitter, disappointed. To my greater relief, my writing was improving.

Occasionally, I do morning pages in a journal. My goal is to keep my writing unedited, just as it comes out. After trying out some Sakura pens, I discovered the clear gel pen in the Gelly Roll Glaze series was perfect for writing morning pages with. You can’t see what you are writing. I began to play with words–after all, using the clear pen allowed me to be clear. I cleared my head. “Clearly” became the keyword for the result of morning pages. Not looking at my writing made me write more boldly, effortlessly, and soulfully.

Journal page, written on in clear Sakura gel pen, covered with watercolor wash. © Quinn McDonald 2011

Then I decided to cover the whole writing with a watercolor wash. Doing that, I discovered a new keyword–resist. The clear gel pen acted as a resist, drying up through the watercolor wash, allowing me to read what I had written. (The page is more clear than above, I deliberately made some of it unreadable–TMI.)

I resist what I need to know, resist claiming what I need to claim, even resist showing up in the world the way I want to. And the pen showed that. No matter what you wash over yourself, you always show up as yourself.

I love the contrast between “clear” and “resist.” You can have both on one page. It’s taught me to think of my day in terms of “clear” and “resist.”

Dive into your own morning pages–clear pen or not. What do you wish were clear to you? What do you resist, even though you need it? Let me know in the comments–or just in your morning pages.

Quinn McDonald is a raw-art journaler whose book, Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art will be available in July of 2011.

12 thoughts on “Morning Pages, Dark and Light

  1. I love the Sakura pens and have TONS of them. Now I’m going to have to dig through my collection and find the clear ones and do this! I had written some stuff with the Souffle’s when I first got them and it was like hidden writing until the color appeared. If I wrote too fast the words were hidden so even I didn’t know what was written!

  2. You have been an inspiration. I am going to make a series of prayer flags using this technique, and fly them from my back porch to the arroyo behind the building. Send my intentions out into the universe, plus have a visual reminder whenever I look outside. Thank you.

  3. Your post was so timely for me! I had just decided(last night) to keep an art journal by my bed AND I just finished reading The Artist’s Way. Great ideas and insight. Thanks.

  4. I love this idea of not being able to see what you’re writing. Intensifies the stream-of-consciousness-ness! I think I may also try doing some intuitive drawings with this pen and use my nondominant hand–deliciously bold for me! Thanks for the prompt.

  5. Quinn- I’d love to talk to you about reprinting this in a subscription ezine I work with Art Journal Journey at Artella Words and Art. You can email me — or DM me on twitter: @zografispaula
    thanks 🙂 this is lovely!!!!

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