Everyone has so much going on in their lives: school, jobs, kids, lovers, hobbies, bills, disasters, accomplishments, worries, joys. There’s so much rattling around in our brains all the time and we usually don’t realize it. We carry this weight with us wherever we go, all the stress and anxiety and planning. What if there was a way to lighten the load? I’m here to tell you that there is such a thing, and that thing is the practice of writing Morning Pages.
What are the Morning Pages?
The method of writing Morning Pages comes from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, a book that teaches broken and frightened artists to get back onto the path of creativity and away from the fear that holds them back. You might scoff right here and say “Well I’m not an artist, so this doesn’t apply to me.” To this I say PHOOEY. You are an artist even if you don’t draw. If you keep a bullet journal, you are an artist, whether you are a minimalist or a decorative planner. If you cook, write, sing, dance, design video games or play baseball, you are an artist. Any act of creation or honing of a skill is art, so don’t feel bogged down by the narrow constraints of what society defines as an “artist”. So yes, the Morning Pages can work for you even if you don’t draw.
The point of the book is to encourage artists to overcome the voices within and without that spew negativity.
You aren’t good enough.
Everyone is better at this than you are.
You are unworthy, your work is unworthy, so why bother?
There is no point in trying- you’ll only fail.
Familiar? Everyone deals with these demons, whether they come from your middle school teacher, a “friend”, or that nasty voice in the back of your head. The Morning Pages help deal with this negativity in regards to creative works, but the power of the pages are not restricted to this work alone. Anyone can start writing Morning Pages to inject clarity, focus, and direction into their lives.
My Morning Pages
I started writing my Morning Pages in February when I first started reading The Artist’s Way. I had seen the book referenced all over the place and finally went to my library to borrow a copy. I read it voraciously and eagerly bought my very first Leuchtturm for writing my Morning Pages, despite having a history of only using journals for a few weeks before abandoning them. It’s the nasty side effect of a journal addiction – collecting new journals despite the large pile of half used notebooks on the bookshelf. I bought the Leuchtturm anyway, despite my better judgement, and started writing my pages.
In my life, I had never successfully been able to keep up a habit of writing in a journal, not even short little one-page entries. I have known since high school that keeping a regular journal has a ton of benefits, but I could never hold on to it for more than a month. I was endlessly frustrated with myself on that front, and I always figured there was something wrong with me.
But something changed in me when I started my Morning Pages. I started writing each day, sometimes first thing, sometimes in the afternoon, but I actually did them. I was skeptical that this would be another passing fancy and I’d drop it after a while, but I kept plugging along. Suddenly, I realized that I was nearing the end of the Leuchtturm. With amazement, I bought another and did something I’d never done before – I wrote on the last page of the journal. And that’s when I realized that somewhere along the way, the Morning Pages performed their magic on me.
I am now halfway through my second journal of devoted writing. I still don’t quite write in them every day, but I’m writing at least 90% of the time, which is acceptable for me. I have never felt as clear or as light as I have since I’ve started writing my Morning Pages. I have no idea when that happened, exactly, but I’m super freakin’ exciting by how good I feel.
There is also something completely magical about waking up, pouring a steaming cup of coffee, and cracking open my journal. If the weather is nice, I will open a window and feel the breeze. I slide on my noise cancelling headphones and listen to Focus at Will, which helps me tremendously with writing consistently and not spacing out. Focus at will is scientifically proven to increase focus and productivity, which is great for my pages. Sometimes I’ll find myself staring aimlessly into the distance and thinking about a TV show or something. Listening to Focus at Will helps me actually write as a stream of conscious. If you want to see how this amazing musical tool works, try it free for two weeks and experience the difference!
How the Pages work
The actual exercise is simple enough. Find a notebook or journal of some kind – it can be a cheap spiral bound notebook or a hardbound Moleskine journal, it doesn’t matter. Grab a pen, one that is easy to write with and comfortable in your hand (I personally like using a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen). Get up a little bit earlier every morning and write longhand for three whole pages. That’s it, baby.
There might be days that you don’t feel like writing. Write anyway. You might forget to do it in the morning. Do it in the afternoon instead, or right before bed. You might start writing and feel like you can’t fill out three pages, it’s too hard. But fill all three anyway. The magic comes from pushing yourself to fill all three. It doesn’t matter what you write, either. You could write down what dreams you had the night before, what you are currently worrying about, the cat’s litter box habits, the chores you don’t want to do, the way your coffee tastes, a grocery list, a to do list, affirmations – the list goes on and on. Write whatever you want to write about, just don’t stop.
Don’t set it down because you got bored or because you realized there’s something you need to do, don’t stop to have a conversation with your spouse. This time is for you and the pages and nothing else, so don’t compromise your you-time for someone else’s needs. Distractions can wait most of the time, and you losing focus and giving in to a distraction could be that little negative voice in the back of your head pulling you away from clarity and confidence. Don’t give in. Write, and the truth will fall out out of your pen.
Because slowly, without your realizing it, the Morning Pages are healing you. Whatever injury you suffered, whether that be a blow to your confidence, a lack of certainty, or a sudden devastating change in your life, the Morning Pages act as a rock you can rely on and a pillow you can cry into. You can bounce ideas off the page, revel in accomplishments, rant about how your kids are driving you nuts, or vent your emotions in any way you want.
Besides showing up to write every day, there’s one other thing you need to do. Don’t let anybody read it. I’m dead serious, guys, do NOT let ANYONE touch your journal, not even a peek. You shouldn’t even read it – not for at least a few months, anyway. If you are afraid that someone is going to read this, you will not be honest to the pages and there will not be any magic. If you’re afraid of prying eyes, hide it and be careful about who knows about the journal.
You need to let go of the fear of judgement and write what’s on your mind, no matter how petty, silly, stupid, or crazy. Have you been considering leaving your significant other, or thinking about a wild career change, or contemplating moving to another country? You need to be able to spill all of your dark desires onto paper. And the funny thing is, the Pages won’t let you lie. Somehow the act of writing a lie, even if you are lying to yourself, makes it laughably obvious that it’s fake and you have to face it. This is something that makes the Pages a little bit scary, because if you have been living in an unhappy situation and you have been lying to yourself about how happy you are, the Pages will make you look at your life with honest eyes and you will need to do one of two things:
- Do something about it
- Continue living in the crappy situation knowing full well that you could get out
Often it is easier to continue living in a lie than to move on into the unknown and try our luck. But living an honest life, in my opinion, is the best way to live.
So is it obvious how zealously I adore the Morning Pages? I seriously cannot sing enough praises for this technique, and I hope you try it. So pick up a copy of The Artist’s Way or listen to it for free with a trial of Audible.com if you’re not sure. Or just start writing your Morning Pages today, no strings attached. If you can get through a month of writing, I believe you will not want to stop. I believe that you will find yourself thinking clearer and being more creative despite yourself, and you will begin to recommend the Morning Pages to your friends, too. So what is there to lose? Grab a pen and paper, darlin’, and start decluttering your brain today.
If you’ve already read The Artist’s Way and are still looking to awaken your creativity. I also recommend Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and A Trail Through Leaves by Hannah Hinchman (which you can get for under $1!). Both are great books that really helped me grow as an artist. (Remember you can listen to two free audio books with a free trial of Audible.com that you can cancel at any time!)
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