If you’ve been listening to my weekly podcast, you already know that I believe that writing can be an incredibly powerful tool for transforming your life. I believe this so strongly because I’ve experienced it firsthand, and continue to as time goes on. Ever since I made a few simple writing techniques a part of my daily practice, I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in my mental health and my emotional well-being.
Here’s the thing, we’re not really taught how our mind works, much less how to make it work to our advantage. After years of dealing with what I could only describe as a form of depression, I suddenly picked up a pen and paper and started writing out everything that was on my mind. This was something I would do throughout most of my life, off and on, but this was the first time I realized why I was doing it. Isn’t it funny how that happens? We do things unconsciously and don’t ever really stop to question the reason. Well, this particular night was very different. I noticed how much less overwhelmed, anxious, sad, and lost I felt. I felt, for the first time in months, relief. And then it hit me — there’s something to this “free-writing.” I’m going to do this again.
And the next morning, I did.
And the morning after that.
And the morning after that.
Eventually, this became a routine at best, and a go-to technique for whenever I felt a bit overwhelmed, scatter-brained, or just “off.” But the difference it made was crazy! I noticed that my head was clearer and my thoughts more organized. I was better able to focus and direct my attention; I felt like I was processing emotions and experiences better rather than feeling repressed or suppressed. I felt lighter and more in control of myself.
This is just one of the techniques that I share in my guide, Rewrite Your Life: What You Were Never Taught About the Power of Your Mind, but it’s super-effective. This “free-writing” technique is often referred to as “Morning Pages” since it was a popularized by Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way.” But don’t let the names fool you, this is neither a technique exclusive to artists or any particular time of day.
This technique is fantastic first thing in the morning or even right before bed, any time where you feel like you need to quiet the noise a bit. I’ve got to say, this has been a great remedy for when I can’t sleep at night because I’ve just got too much on my mind. Giving your thoughts a chance to be “heard” and the knowledge that they have been recorded helps to bring your mind some security — you’ve written it down, you’re not going to forget so you don’t need to be reminded.
As I was saying, anyone can benefit from this daily practice. Essentially, it’s kind of like a “brain dump.” I mean, in today’s fast-paced world, maintaining any sense of sanity can be challenging. There’s just so much happening all of the time. Who couldn’t use a moment to just let it all out and start fresh?
What are “Morning Pages”?
In her popular book, “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron recommends that the first thing you do in the morning is reach for your notebook (just about any size you’re comfortable with will do) and physically write enough to fill up three pages. This technique is meant to help clear your mind and mentally prime you for the rest of your day. Like with most things, you honestly won’t understand the power of it until you try it out for yourself.
What you write on these three pages doesn’t matter. It can be a list, things to remember, sketches, etc. Anything that’s on your mind at the moment. My go-to is a sort of “stream of consciousness” — just write down exactly what I’m thinking, without stopping, censoring, editing, or correcting. Grammar, spelling, structure, etc. don’t matter here. You are completely free!
Even if you don’t know what to write, write that you don’t know what to write. Literally, any thought that comes to mind, write it down. You are basically recording your complete internal dialogue at that moment. Write freely, openly, and honestly. Don’t hold back. It may feel odd at first, that’s normal. But trust me, after the first paragraph or two, it gets much easier. Every time.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking — “Recording my complete internal dialogue?!”
These pages are for your eyes only.
Some people destroy the papers immediately; Others extract the important bits before shredding it; It’s sometimes recommended to set aside the papers in a designated envelope to review later and shred weekly; If you want to hang onto your morning pages forever, that’s your call. It’s all about preference and comfort. Ideally, whatever makes you feel safest and less inhibited. You don’t want to stop yourself in the middle of it all because you’re concerned that someone might find them.
Besides all that, there aren’t many rules.