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. It can bog us down and get in the way of the important things in life. While it can often feel like this is simply the burden of being human, I am here to tell you that there is a way to lighten this load through a technique called the Morning Pages.
What are the Morning Pages?
The method of writing Morning Pages comes from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book teaches broken and frightened artists to get back onto the path of creativity and away from the fear that holds them back.
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 than you.
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. And these nasty voices follow us around our lives, infecting more than just the realm of art. The Morning Pages was originally designed to help artists break through their creative blocks and get back to creating. However, the power of the morning pages doesn’t just stop at creative pursuits. This journaling technique is valuable for every aspect of life, from marriage to parenting to daily stressors about work. Anyone can start writing Morning Pages to inject clarity, focus, and direction into their lives.
- Julia Cameron
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee
But I’m Not an Artist!
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. Art isn’t about paint and canvases and clay. Art is about creating something from nothing and diving into your passions. If you cook, write, sing, dance, design video games or play baseball, you are an artist. Any act of creation or honing of 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.
How the Morning 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 that you enjoy. Make sure that you use a pen that is easy to write with and feels comfortable in your hand. Personally, I bounce between a Lamy Safari and a Pilot Metropolitan. Get up a little bit earlier every morning and complete three pages of stream of consciousness writing. That’s it, baby.
What Do You Write?
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 complete your pages. It doesn’t matter what you write, either. You could write down what dreams you had the night before, what you are currently worried 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… Write whatever pops into your head.
Dealing With Distractions
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 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. 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 with 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 can also simply shred your pages after every writing session if you are concerned about privacy. Do whatever you have to do.
You need to let go of the fear of judgment 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 your contentment, 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 your luck. But it is not better. Living an honest life is the best way to live.
My Morning Pages
After seeing The Artist’s Way referenced all over the place, I finally ran 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 journal anyway despite my better judgment 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 that the Morning Pages performed their magic on me.
How the Pages Helped Me
I used to be constantly bogged down with procrastination, and all the demons that come with that curse. But the Morning Pages helped me climb out of that mindset and into a healthier, more productive one. While the Morning Pages weren’t a cure-all, they did serve as the catalyst to me turning into the exact type of person I’d always wanted to be.
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 listen to Prime Music, which helps me tremendously with writing consistently and not spacing out. I can listen to different kinds of ambient music or nature sounds and really feel focused when I write. The beauty is that there are no commercials to interrupt my train of thought. Try it free for 30 days and experience it for yourself! And if you’re a student, you can actually try Prime free for six whole months, which is absolutely fantastic.
15 Morning Pages Tips
Now that I’ve been writing Morning Pages for several years, I can comfortably say that I know my way around this journaling technique. I’ve run into lots of challenges and had to get creative with my solutions. Just picking up your pen and beginning to write is an excellent place to start, but check out my 15 tips to accelerate your growth with the Morning Pages!
Start Writing and Never Look Back
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 know you will not want to stop. You will find yourself thinking clearer and being more creative, 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.
- Julia Cameron
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee
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. Both are great books that really helped me grow as an artist and as a person. (Remember you can listen to two free audiobooks with a free trial of Audible.com that you can cancel at any time!)
Whatever you do, remember to keep trying. Starting the Morning Pages can be a bit terrifying, but the release it provides is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. Maybe it doesn’t stick for you at first. That’s fine! Keep at it and you will develop the habit. The point is that you strive for growth and put in the effort. This one daily habit completely changed the way I live my life, and I know it can help you too.
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