In one of my latest podcasts, I talked a bit about how writing can be an incredibly powerful tool for transforming your life.
I used to write almost daily for most of my life, but when I got to about 24/25, I kind of fell of the bandwagon. I still wrote, but not at all every day.
Fast forward to two years later, the later half of 2017, when I got back into it. (The reason is kind of personal but I will share that with you when I’m ready.) I noticed a huge difference in my emotional and mental wellbeing. I felt more focused, less anxious, and lighter! I discovered things about myself like what thoughts, feelings, beliefs I was holding onto or suppressing. It was totally eye-opening. I had to share some of my techniques with you!
Okay, they’re not really “my” techniques. Can’t take credit. I didn’t invent “Morning Pages” (or what I mistakenly call “Morning Papers.”) I had learned about “Morning Pages” years ago! It was a large part of the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. The technique is incredibly simple but most of all effective, whether you consider yourself “a creative” or not. Let me break it down really simply for you.
What are “Morning Pages” or “Morning Papers?”
Morning Pages are a daily practice made popular by Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way.” The concept of morning pages is to physically write enough to fill up three pages, every single day, first thing in the morning.
It doesn’t matter what size the paper is. It doesn’t even matter what you write. It’s kind of meant to be a sort of “stream of consciousness.” Even if you do not know what to write, write that down. Yes, even writing, “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know where to even start. How do I begin?” Is fine. The point is to get your thoughts down on paper, without editing or censoring yourself, without worrying about spelling, punctuation, grammar, structure. None of that matters here. It’s a very free practice.
Can you do “Morning Pages” on a computer?
Short answer: it’s not recommended. Morning Pages is about connecting with yourself, the most honest version of yourself. And while you may think you’re benefiting from speed by typing away on a computer keyboard, but it often creates too much disconnect between you and what you’re writing on the page. It’s actually the slowing down that is involved when you put a pen to paper when writing these morning pages that creates the opportunity for more clarity and connection to yourself.
Who are “Morning Pages” good for?
Everyone, of course. The technique is something that is highly recommended for creatives. By nature, creative people tend to be incredibly sensitive. However, anyone that finds themselves feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or “stuck” can benefit from this daily practice.
What are the benefits of “Morning Pages”?
As I said, if you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stuck, or lost, morning pages can be the simplest ticket to more clarity and peace. When you’re feeling like you’ve lost yourself, don’t even know who you are anymore or what you need to focus on or what’s really holding you back, morning pages are a very simple solution. In the book, “The Artist’s Way,” author, Julia Cameron, recommends this technique to help artists, writers, and seekers break through creative blocks and even strengthen their intuition.
Morning Pages and Self-Care / Self-Love:
I would have to argue that Morning Pages is one of the most powerful tools for self-love, self-acceptance, and is kind of like self-care on steroids. Morning Pages sets you up to have to be so transparent with yourself, so completely unfiltered, that by the time you’ve filled up those pages and look down, you actually are seeing yourself. It’s one of the most intimate experiences you can have, not just with yourself, but in your life period.
Morning Pages is a daily invitation to allow yourself to be openly honest about exactly what is on your mind. What is bothering you, what’s on your mind, what’s actually happening. It’s a way to truly see and make sense of what is and isn’t working for you in your life.
Your morning pages time is like a safe space to realize what you’re actually afraid of, what’s really holding you back, and what you really want in your life.
Morning Pages & Creativity
We’re constantly thinking, worrying, complaining 24/7. Our brains are naturally hardwired to do that for survival since the cavemen era. Meditators often refer to this as “the monkey mind,” which is quite fitting when you think about how it’s always throwing shit at you trying to get your attention all the damn time, which makes it challenging to focus on important tasks when we need to.
You might be thinking — wait a minute, Jess, I’m not a writer or an artist or a creative person, I don’t need this. Well, it actually doesn’t matter what your field, profession, or day-to-day looks like. Creativity is a universal resource. Creativity isn’t confined to beautiful paintings, or color combinations, or poetry and music. Finding solutions to everyday problems — no matter how simple or complex — requires creativity.
Back to what I was saying about the monkey mind always throwing shit at us — well, the morning pages is where you get to invite that overactive, stressed out, antsy part of you to sit down and air out it’s grievances. Let your monkey mind get all of that stuff off its chest. That way, it’ll be a lot more likely to leave you alone later or at least be a lot less aggressive.
What to Write in Morning Pages
I don’t often have too much trouble filling out the three pages as I treat it as a stream of consciousness. Even if I don’t know what to write, I start with just that. “I don’t know what to write. I have no idea how I’m going to fill up these pages. You know what really pissed me off when I was growing up?” And eventually, it all just starts flowing. One thought leads to another.
These are true morning pages in my opinion.
It’s as unfiltered and as raw a version of yourself as you can get. And that’s the point. It’s coming to terms with all the truth of you — even the imperfect, flawed, dark parts we’re not often proud of. It’s my belief that the more you open yourself up to getting comfortable with your “ugly” (I guess, the cute word could be ‘vulnerabilities’) the more you can let yourself create beauty in your life.
** Sometimes, writing your truth on paper to such an unedited extent can be stressful if you’re worried about someone finding them. If you are uninterested in reviewing your morning pages and referencing back, you may destroy them right after. In fact, that may even make the entire practice feel more liberating as you feel safe to be honest AF which can make it all even more effective.
That’s all for this post! I wrote it up at like 2am because I cannot get creative until it’s dark and dead silent because every person in the same time zone is asleep. I’m publishing this post, without any cute graphics because I’m tired and need to get to bed but I wanted to make sure it was ready for you guys as early as possible so you can read it while eating breakfast, on the subway (or the tube if you’re British!) going to work or school. Let me know in my latest instagram post if you read this post & liked it!
I’m literally on a crusade to get people to make writing a habit & daily practice in 2018!