I first came across Morning Pages when reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron but have since discovered it’s quite a well-known technique that helps with gaining perspective, getting direction and taking action in relation to creativity and life more generally.
Quite simply, Morning Pages are three pages of handwritten, stream of conscious writing first thing in the morning. In Cameron’s own words, “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing’. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only.” The important thing is you do it everyday.
The idea is you don’t focus on whether your writing is good or bad, or even coherent, you just have a ‘brain-dump’ of whatever is going on inside your head. This isn’t a method just for writers but for anyone – entrepreneurs as well as artists have reaped the benefit of this daily practice.
I’ve been doing morning pages for nearly three months now. At first I didn’t really understand the point of them and also found it extremely hard to fit in to my daily schedule. However, after making it a priority and realising it was not ideal to do over breakfast while chatting to my partner, but first thing when I sit at my desk away from distractions, I now see the hugely transformative power it has and I couldn’t ever imagine not writing them.
So why are morning pages so great? Well, here are three reasons for starters:
Firstly, it’s private. It’s an opportunity to get down on paper and outside your head the circling thoughts or concerns troubling you. It’s a place where I’ve developed my own voice and can hear my ‘true’ thoughts and feelings about issues outside the well-meaning input of friends and family. Because you don’t censor yourself, it’s an opportunity to really explore your goals and ideas, follow intuition, and also have a record of your thinking and development of them over time.
Secondly, recording thoughts and feelings first thing in the morning means Morning Pages function as a ‘brain sweep’ to clear your mind before you start the day. Like clearing out a cupboard, it sweeps away clutter and dirt on a regular basis. As such, it has been argued it boosts your productivity during the day.
Thirdly, the act of externalising thoughts helps you put things into perspective, which is therapeutic but also helps in problem-solving or generating insights on certain matters. As Eckhart Tolle said, “we can only change what we are conscious of”. Morning pages can thus help you devise and reflect on goals and actions.
If writing longhand or carrying around a notepad doesn’t appeal to you, there’s a popular webapp called 750 words that you can try out for a trial period for free. It’s exactly the same principle of Morning Pages (3 pages) but in digital form.
Give it a go. Who knows how useful you’ll find it and where it may take you. Though it comes with a warning – this lady transformed her life so much from writing morning pages she got divorced, lost weight and revitalised her career!