Week 1: Morning Pages

In honor of my sister Grace, I am imposing a set of weekly challenges on myself. For 12 weeks, I will attempt a different “challenge” each week–to do one thing every day for seven days, ranging from serious to silly. At the end of each week, I’ll let you know how it goes.


I’m married to a full-time poet and musician and most of my closest friends are legitimate artists: painters, writers, dancers, and so forth. This means that I’m often very intimidated when I attempt to exhibit creativity of any kind. I can work on my calligraphy or take fuzzy photographs or scribble halfhearted stories into a notebook, but I dare not call myself an “artist” or even a creative person. I’m surrounded by so many serious–and seriously talented–artists that I wouldn’t dare join their throng in any tangible way.

I talk to Emily a lot about this. Emily is an artist–a dancer, a poet, a costume designer, and a basket-weaver–and she is equally intimidating in her talents. But she’s always encouraged me to artistic pursuits, despite my protestations. A few weeks ago, she sent me a copy of Julia Cameron’s workbook for stifled creative people, called The Artist’s Way. It’s a program designed to help frustrated artists or people like myself, who want to be creative but can’t get over their self-consciousness, to start making art. Some of the chapters are pretty hokey, but some are really encouraging.

One of the tasks that Cameron forces her students to do is write “morning pages.” Morning pages are essentially a brain dump of three handwritten pages right after you wake up. The goal is to get yourself in the habit of expressing thought in an uninhibited manner. This, supposedly, will allow you to loosen your self-conscious chains. For my first week of challenges, I wanted to try to write morning pages every day.


  • Coming up with stuff to write when you wake up is difficult. But maybe that’s the point?
  • At first, I wrote a lot about weather, mostly complaints about how cold it was still. But as I kept writing each morning, my thoughts seemed to diverge and I was actually able to write about the things I was thinking. Like, can you call a graphic novel a novel? Or, why is grapefruit so delicious in the winter?
  • I have a very well-documented and boring life.
  • I might try to keep doing it.

Next week’s challenge: Daily yoga. Grace, this is all your fault…