In one of my latest podcasts, I talked a bit about how writing can be an incredibly powerful tool for transforming your life.
Over the past six months or so, I’ve taken up writing as a daily practice and technique for managing myself. It wasn’t long after I got started that I noticed a huge difference in my mental and emotional well-being. I use the physical act of writing to help me clear my head, organize my thoughts, and process my experiences. Since I made writing a part of my daily routine, I’ve felt more focused, less anxious, and lighter!
The one technique that I must share with you that I use on an almost daily basis is called “Morning Pages.” Contrary to its name, you don’t need to do them first thing in the morning, you can do them any time you feel overwhelmed or as though you’ve just got a lot going on in your head and need to quiet the noise a bit.
Morning Pages is a key part of the book, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. While the book is aimed at artists, anyone can benefit from this daily practice. Essentially, it’s kind of like a “brain dump.” Morning Pages is an incredibly simple technique that anyone can try and benefit from.
What are “Morning Pages”?
In her popular book, “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron recommends that first thing in the morning you pick up a notebook, just about any size you’re comfortable with will do, and physically write enough to fill up three pages. She recommends doing this every single day, first thing in the morning, to help clear your mind and mentally prime you for the rest of your day.
What you write 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.
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 down your complete internal dialogue. Write freely, openly, and honestly.
These pages are meant for your eyes only. Some people destroy the papers immediately; some people extract the important bits before shredding it; some people set aside the papers in a designated envelope to review later and shred weekly; some people hang onto their morning pages forever. It’s all about preference. There aren’t many rules. I think most people prefer to destroy the papers as soon as possible as it makes them feel much more comfortable with writing their innermost uncensored thoughts down on paper. Do you!
Do I HAVE to Physically Write Out My Morning Pages? Can I Do Morning Pages on a Computer?
Short answer: it’s not recommended to type out morning pages. 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, it often creates too much disconnect between you and what you’re writing on the page.
The slowing down that is involved when you physically put a pen to paper when writing these morning pages is what creates the opportunity for more clarity and connection to yourself.
Benefits of Morning Pages
I swear by this technique because it really helped me to connect with myself and discover things that I hadn’t quite realized until I had my thoughts staring right back at me on a piece of paper. It’s fascinating what thoughts, feelings, beliefs you may not have realized you were holding onto or suppressing.
Of course, this was a technique initially recommended to help artists & creatives get unstuck and unleash their creativity. Often, we hold our own selves back with our expectation / demanding of perfection. That feeling of “whatever I create won’t be good enough so I won’t get started until it’s just right” can be a form of self-sabotage. You know how people say, “just start?” Morning Pages is a form of that for creatives, artists, writers, etc. In the book, “The Artist’s Way,” author, Julia Cameron, recommends this technique to help artists, writers, and seekers break through creative blocks.
If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stuck, lost, etc. morning pages can be the simplest ticket to more clarity and peace. It’s almost like a form of meditation. You’re allowing yourself to become fully present with your thoughts and giving them a chance to express themselves to you so that they don’t keep pestering you throughout the day. Personally, I find the technique helpful at any point of the day where I feel a bit mentally disorganized. It gives your thoughts a chance to feel “heard” and then you can actually move on.
Morning Pages & Self-Care / Self-Love:
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. It’s not about judgment, but looking at whatever is occurring much more objectively which is the only way to actually improve anything in your life on your own.
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. It’s a raw and unfiltered account of the current state of your thoughts — you may be surprised what you useful information you might find that you may have overlooked or brushed past countless times. Clarity.
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 free you become to create beauty in your life on your terms. And interestingly enough, through morning pages you may discover the truth of what a beautiful life on your own terms even means, looks like, and feels like to you.