My New Morning Ritual (& Writing in Our Family)

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Morning Pages and Coffee

I have a new morning ritual and commitment. It involves waking up early before anyone else is up and making an amazing coffee drink (how did I live so long without it?!).

And writing.

Writing and thinking; processing and dreaming.

Artists Way Morning Pages Journals 1

I absolutely treasure this quiet time alone with my thoughts and a blank page. I light a few candles, make my coffee, and open my notebook.

As part of The Artist’s Way book and course, I write three “morning pages” longhand first thing. It’s part journal, part brain dump. I process my life, discover insights, and get the junk out of the way so that the real art can happen.

Is it happening? Am I making art? 

Yes and no. But I am sitting down to draw with the kids and that’s a step in the right direction, right? That drawing time is for me, too.

I’m also doing some drawing and creating on my own. Not a lot. But some. And I LOVE it when I do. And I’ve done a few art-related assignments for class (I’ll share more soon…).

I guess part of my excuse is that I feel like I have so much on my to do list right now that it’s hard for me to justify taking the time to draw and create. And also part of it is that I don’t know what I am.

Morning Pages and Coffee 3

Am I a writer or a visual artist? I’ve always thought of myself as a visual artist but maybe I’ve become a writer over the past 8 years. I wanted to. I’ve written a lot. I even wrote a book! And believe that it’s a good one. But it doesn’t feel like creative writing to me. I think of creative writing as fiction or poetry. Or creative non-fiction. But not what I do. Not this blog. Or my book. Or the magazine articles I’ve written.

Anyway, something for me to continue to think about (and write about!)…

And while we’re on the subject of writing, I also wanted to share some writing that Maia and Daphne have been doing…

Drawing Paper Dolls 7

Daphne started writing recently. She’s beginning to form the letters in her name.

Drawing Paper Dolls 6

And she’s also writing letters to Grandma that look like this…

Drawing Paper Dolls 9

…and then decorating them with leaf print stickers (an activity from my spring crafts ebook).

Cute Doll Notecards

And Maia writes notes and letters and cards to her grandmas and aunt. We are loving these adorable paper doll notecards! They’ve even provided artistic inspiration as well, which I’ll share in a later post.

How about you? Do you journal? Do your kids? Also, I’d love any tips for encouraging writing in children!

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Comments

  1. says

    I gave my four-year old an old diary (because I have a diary and he wants what I have) and he draws, writes and makes ‘lists’ for our upcoming vacation (which look like Daphne’s letter to her Grandma :)
    Children copy what you do and increasingly, I find that if I want him to do more art or have fun drawing, he needs to see me doing it too. That’s the motivation I need to pick up the paintbrush again.

  2. says

    I think the best book we’ve read & used on the subject is The Write Start by Jennifer Hallissy. She has so many practical and FUN ideas to get kids writing. I have observed in my own children that they want to write for purpose, and for creativity, and her book follows so many of those ideas by making really good exercises. We are homeschoolers, and for my son’s next “writing curriculum”, we’re just going to go through those activities one every week.
    Myself, I don’t journal, but I keep a blog, too, and I enjoy that. I am also an artist in the sense that I create and love to create within about 4 main hobbies–printing, sewing, knitting, and drawing BUT I agree that the HARDEST thing about this is actually getting started. I find if I don’t start, I don’t do anything for a long time, but if I’m in the habit of even intentionally doing something for 15 minutes a day, I am pleased with the results and I do it a lot more. (Sigh, like any discipline, I suppose!)
    And you are TOTALLY a creative writer, you just have to own it. Writing a blog, for whatever purpose, is writing creatively because you’re expressing your thoughts and ideas. I think you can call yourself both :) !
    Sarah M
    PS-I preordered your book and I can’t wait to get it! It’s a birthday gift to myself (and of course, to my kids). We can’t wait to use it.

  3. says

    Such a wonderful morning ritual. I typically get up and read the paper but I love the idea of switching it up for awhile and trying to write.
    (found you via Babble by the way – look forward to reading more of your posts!)
    Micaela
    http://www.mindfulmomma.com

  4. says

    Oh, I’ve been doing morning pages on and off forever. (Right now I am in an “off” phase, I think. I’ve done maybe 10 or 15 since the first of the year.) I really do need to make it a part of my rhythm; I’ve read that it takes 21 days to create a new habit & I never can seem to go 21 days in a row with *anything*.
    I also have The Write Start & am starting to gather things for my Scribbler and my emergent Speller to use in exploring writing. I have always been a writer & I do want them to love it the way I do… xo

  5. says

    Hi Jean,
    I love your morning ritual. You asked about tips on creative writing for children. Besides teaching art, I also taught in the classroom: kindergarten, first, and second grades. One of the best creative writing projects I did was to have the children draw a picture and then write a story about it. We even had picture writing paper, which is lined paper with a large blank box on top for the picture. The youngest students would dictate their story and I’d write what they said. The older students would write their own story. If they didn’t know how to spell a word, they didn’t let that stop their creativity. They wrote the word how it sounded, and most of the time I could figure it out. Hope this helps. Happy writing.

  6. says

    I’ve recently started to journal a lot more – including both writing and a bit of mixed media artwork. If my 2.5 year old is around while I’m doing it, I always like to include him. He has his own caddy with small memo notebooks, crayons, and colored pencils. He’ll also pick out pictures that he likes in magazines for me to cut out for him. I love this idea of getting up early, though. I really would like to start trying to do this!

  7. says

    I would love to do that! However, my 18-month old sometimes gets up at 5:30am, so I don’t see it happening any time soon… Zzzzzzz…

  8. says

    A couple questions and a comment, or two!
    1) I’m intrigued with the morning beverage. Since starting (mostly) Whole 30/Paleo eating a few weeks ago, I feel so much better, but am missing a little bit of “something white” in my coffee. So. Do you warm up the coconut milk and what’s the best way to do this as my coconut milk is always still chunky in the can. Details!
    2) I cracked up that Maia asked her how old she was turning. Doesn’t she have any manners?! Ha ha ha. P.S. I’m very impressed she sewed it herself as I hate hand sewing and admire anyone who does it. And proudly!
    And for a few comments… I too have been struggling to create my own art again and keep making excuses like space, time, materials, the right paper, the right light, TIME, blah blah. I’m inspired to create again especially now that Wren watches and comments on everything I do and I want her to know that I too create and not just do the dishes, a-hem. So I’m looking forward to hearing more about how you are enjoying The Artist’s Way and the process of creating for yourself again.
    Bliggity blog on.

  9. Jenny says

    I used to be a reading and writing specialist. Here’s some tips on encouraging writing in children-
    -set up a writing space where they can easily access writing materials when the mood strikes(fun pencils, different papers, diary, notebooks, clipboards, cards, etc.)
    -let the child write phonetically. Early stages may just be one letter for each word, and that is okay (encouraged actually!). With practice they will start hearing more consonants in words, and then vowels will come later.
    -if they need help coming up with the spelling of a word, say things like, “let’s say the word slowly and write down the sounds you hear.” Some teachers call this “turtle talk” –slow like a turtle.
    -try to not write on their paper (sometimes parents like to write the correct spelling beneath the word). Let them have ownership of the work. If you feel like you must write the correct spelling to know what it says, write it on a post-it note and attach it to the work later when you have it all filed away.
    -be a good model. Write often and have them watch you using writing in your everyday life. Have them help out with your writing too–”My hands are full. Can you add “milk” to my grocery list? What else do we need? You write it for me.”
    -focus more on the content of their writing than their spelling–especially when they are beginning writers.
    -help them find reasons to write–mail letters to relatives, post notes around house telling other family members something important, grocery lists, create a nature notebook and write down observations about nature around you, etc.

  10. says

    Writing by yourself in the morning sounds great, I hope it leads you to new art. I can imagine that parents in this computer age might have a little extra work to do to encourage writing by hand as compared to when there weren’t many computers in schools or homes. I’ve recently started a blog because I realized how much I appreciate expressing myself in the written word and I count your blog as one of my inspirations.

  11. says

    I have fallen behind in actual morning pages. I have been doing mine at 750words.com … because even if I miss the morning I can always do them first thing at the computer. Love your ritual. I want to try that coffee. And, I LOVE those notecards. I might need to get a pack!

  12. Elizabeth says

    “Is it happening? Am I making art?” YES!!! :-) Jean, according to Seth Godin you are very much an artist. I want to encourage you to read his amazing book, The Icarus Deception. So much of what he says in this book applies to what you do here on this blog. Please read it and know that you’re an artist and you make art, according to Seth Godin’s definition, everyday. You’re an inspiration Jean. Thank you for sharing your art here with us.

  13. says

    Ashlea – I don’t warm up the coconut milk. If it’s still partly solid, I stir it around or just put some in and let the coffee melt it. You could warm it up if you wanted, though. I’ve been eating Paleo since Jan 1 (with a big slip up a couple of weeks ago) and love it. I call this coffee drink my “wonder drink” — it is a lovely and healthy indulgence and makes the paleo eating thing much more fun for me.

  14. says

    I’m not good about the 21 days thing either, Meghann, especially when I try! If I don’t think about the 21 days and just do something because I love it or because I’m seeing the benefit of it, then I surprise myself sometimes by realizing I’ve been doing it for 30 days or whatever. :)

  15. says

    Exactly!! Children copy what we do. It’s one of the reasons I’m trying to get back into doing more art myself. (I’m doing it for them AND for me…)

  16. says

    Yes. Unquestionably. Its a fantastic brain dump; I get whatever is rolling around in my mind out on paper then I can focus on my day. I think I am more creative more productive just more *present* because I dont have all these half-formed thoughts clamoring for my attention.
    My big problem right now—part of what I wrote about in this mornings pages, in fact—is that Im getting to the point where the only way to get up before my kids in the morning is to not go to bed at night. However early I get up (I was up at 4:30 this morning…), one or both of them follows within a half hour. And then George gets up, and then my quiet time is over. (Writing page three with two preschoolers kicking each other on the couch next to me isnt ideal, but I guess its better than nothing…)
    :)

  17. says

    I wish I had time to do this – my kids are such early risers and I don’t have the energy before bed. Maybe at some point I’ll set an alarm and get up a little before them, but 5:00 or 5:30 is SO early for me. :) I used to write a LOT when I was in Peace Corps, helped me learn the language, remember experiences, get frustrations out, etc. I wish I was better about it now to remember all the little experiences of the kids being young. Also, FYI, you are a writer AND an artist in my opinion! Being able to maintain this blog over all these years, write a book (and e-books) and produce art with the kids – not to mention the rest of your life – are huge accomplishments!

  18. lauri says

    Great message. I am inspired by all of your creativity–guys.
    I am a mother of 6. I have homeschooled for 15 years and am now just getting it! creativity is the heart of learning. I want to BE more creatiive myself so I can inspire my kids. I MIGHT start to do some of the things that you ladies are doing! wonderful.
    I love the small bits of time. I can do small bits. I have a 2 year old right now and teaching 7 year old to read. BUT I love finding meaningful things to WRITE so THEy want to write/read etc.

  19. says

    I absolutely love the unconscious stream of thought that comes out of morning pages! Being consistent with doing them is another story for me! But when I do, it feels so good and i love the ideas that come out!
    I just wrote a post about Encouraging Writing in Children full of tips and ideas. Please come over for a visit and share your ideas all around!
    http://keepingcreativityalive.com/2013/03/ideas-for-encouraging-writing-in-children/
    Also.. IKWYM about creative writing vs blog or article writing.. but I think exercising that part of the brain is so valuable regardless!

  20. says

    Interesting that you bring this up now. While it has by no means become a ritual for me, by starting my art workshops for Moms recently where we focus on making our own art journals, I have also started my own art journal…at first to test out the possibilities of different techniques and media, but ultimately, it has turned out to be MY new space for creating my own art, just for me, after many years of putting that on hold. I am enjoying working alongside the women in my groups, and seeing what unfolds.

  21. Amanda L says

    On the subject of morning pages, do you write 3 single sides, or 3 double sides? I never found it clear in the book