Three Handwritten Morning Pages

Morning Pages

When I began reading The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, I also began her recommended daily practice of writing morning pages. Since then, a little more than 6 months have past, and they have become a key part of my life. I’ve become accustomed to waking up early each morning to write three pages longhand straight from my stream of consciousness, for my eyes only.

They’re intended to be as whiny or petty or angry as they need to be that day. (And sometimes they are.) Whatever comes out, no judgment. Getting all that crap down on the page and off your mind is the goal. It lets you get on with the rest of your day and your creative endeavors without all that weighing on you.

“Words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.” ~Ingrid Bengis

My morning pages don’t always happen in the morning. That’s the goal, but what’s important is that they happen. Sometimes I finish them right as the clock strikes midnight. Sometimes I write them on a plane or in the airport waiting to board one. Sometimes I write a little more or a little less. “There’s no wrong way to do morning pages,” according to Cameron, and I take her at her word.

Morning pages on-the-go at SFO.

A photo posted by Angela Petersen (@angelafpetersen) on


Early on in the process, I scribbled down the following words about the act of writing morning pages, and it’s effect on my writing:

“Another morning begins on my couch with a coffee cup in hand, the warmth (and caffeine) starting to wake up my brain and course through the rest of my senses. This is a great way to start the day. I’ve come to really look forward to it, the freedom to write whatever and the flow of recording it by hand. I want to do this forever. I’m a clear, better person when I do this. I’ve also begun to notice how my writing’s changing. Starting where you are — physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, biologically — helps make my writing more descriptive, more interesting.”

In addition, the mere fact of always trying to squeeze these pages into my day has freed me from the hang ups of thinking that I need to be in a certain place or in a certain mood to write. I don’t and never really did.

“Morning pages map our own interior. Without them, our dreams may remain terra incognito. I know mine did. Using them, the light of insight is couple with the power for expansive change. It is very difficult to complain about a situation morning after morning, month after month, without being moved to constructive action. The pages lead us out of despair and into undreamed-of solutions.” ~Julia Cameron

Morning pages are meditative, but they’re also a safe place to rest and explore on the page. They’re recommended for anyone who wants to live life more creatively or intentionally — writers and non-writers alike. To say that they’ve changed my life isn’t hyperbole at all.

"Good habits are worth being fanatical about." ~John Irving

From the front page of my journal.

Over the last six months, I’ve written for more days than I haven’t. Today is my 90th day in a row. I made it through the holidays, some work travel, a trip to Tahoe, and into the new year. I didn’t start out expecting anything, but from this habit have come the start of posts you’ll see here over the coming months, other ideas and creative projects, and a much clearer sense of who I am and what I want.

So now I don’t want to break the chain.

It’ll happen at some point, but in the short term, I’ll stick to being fanatical about it.

Wisdom for New Beginnings

Pacific Ocean, Maui, Hawaii

The vast Pacific horizon off the coast of Maui.


As you consider the year ahead, maybe making New Year’s resolutions, maybe not, I thought I’d share a poem that’s meant a lot to me this year. I’ve read it many, many times over the course of the year as I’ve made some big changes in my life and will continue to do so as I prepare for more in the year ahead.

Change isn’t always easy. Sometimes it forms quietly, waiting until we’re really ready to leave the old behind, finally finding and settling into it’s new rhythm.

This slower, ground-up change is just as good as the resolved, tracked, and executed kind.


For a New Beginning by John O’Donohue

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety,
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plentiude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear,
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk,
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.


P.S. – This poem comes from a book I’ve really enjoyed called To Bless the Space Between Us, a compilation of blessings for everyday events like getting a new job or moving into a new home.