What are the Morning Pages?
And how can they possibly change your life?
If you have never heard of the Morning Pages but want to give a new habit a try, I can assure you that you’re about to change your life for the better. If you find that journaling is a relaxing method for you to help organize your thoughts, you’ve come to the right place. In this article I will tell you what I found out about myself writing my Morning pages, and I will also walk you through step by step how to start writing your own morning pages journal and what to think of when starting out.
We tend to live stressful lives and rarely have spare time for ourselves. There’s work, children, grocery shopping, meals for our dinner guests, more work and so on. The list can go on. The stress can lead to anxiety and worrying which leads to more stress.
How can you squeeze in writing into this day that is already packed with so many events? Isn’t this going to be another stressful activity that you somehow have to squeeze in there as well?
No, it is not. This is the way to destress. Writing morning pages has been a way for me to declutter the chatter in my brain, and it’s truly a remedy for a stressful life.
Starting writing the morning pages is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This is what happened: One of my friends back then handed me a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and suggested I’d start with the method described in the book. To be honest with you, I wasn’t thrilled. I was sceptical: how could writing 3 pages a day change my life? How would that even be possible? But my friend insisted. “Try it out for a month at least”, he said.
I decided to give the method a try. I said to myself that I was going to try writing every morning for a month and if it didn’t do me any good in that period of time I would let it go and never look back. (By the way, this is way too short of time for the effect to really kick in. Cameron’s program is 12 weeks).
I was intrigued by the end of the first week. Sticking to the method has made such a big impact on my life. I never could’ve imagined that 3 hand written pages a day could be so powerful before I started with them. Because that’s basically the only thing to it: 3 hand written pages a day. Write them the first thing you do in the morning for the best result (I will tell you more about this in a moment)
But how come they are so powerful?
In her book Julia Cameron teaches a 12-step method in detail. The mission with this book is to help artists to find their way back to their creative path if they have been broken in some way.
If your’e thinking: “okay, so I’m not an artist, This is not for me then”, think again. According to Cameron (and me) everyone is an artist. If you are a human being, you are a creative being. And creating is being an artist in some way. You might be an accountant and really good with spreadsheets. Or maybe you have gardening skills or are a talented basketball player. If that’s not what you associate with art, it’s only because you were raised with the belief that art only consists of a few things such as drawing, painting, writing, music and so on.
In Cameron’s book, art is everything that you do out of creativity and love. Being creative is the same as being an artist, and we as a human species are specialized in using our creative skills to achieve our goals or just for the sake of joy. Art is a playful activity that helps us to tap into our true selves. And that’s really what this book teaches us.
So how do you write the Morning Pages?
Cameron has two rules. These rules are non negotiable. This is very important if you want to get the best result.
- Write three pages every morning.
- Book an appointment with your inner artist one hour every week.
There is nothing more than that basically. It might sound easy, but to stick to the three pages each day can be a challenge sometimes. You will find out that you don’t want to do them, that you’d rather sleep in, or you just simply can’t find the time to write them some days.
If you don’t manage to do them one day, it’s also important not to judge yourself. Continue the next day and think of why you didn’t manage to accomplish the writing the day before. Did you have a something you needed to focus on later that day that needed your attention? Maybe you burned your toast or forgot to buy butter and your morning was ruined. Now you certainly don’t want to write any stupid morning pages. Anything can happen in life, and some days are going to be harder than others. Just try to analyze why you didn’t write, and what you can do to avoid it in the future.
But what if you’re not a morning person at all?
Of course you can write the Pages in the evening if you aren’t a morning person. But for the best result, Cameron highly suggests you write the pages in the morning, before the rest of the day starts to slip into your mind. If you wait until the evening to write, chances are you’re going to write about the day and what happened. That can be a good thing to do, if you want to canalize anger for example. But Cameron has a point when she suggests you write first thing in the morning, since your mind is quite clear from a night of sleep. If you went to bed with anger, maybe you’ve slept some of it off and you can start fresh the next morning.
But what if you think you can’t write? If you think you don’t have writing skills? Maybe you’re stressed out just by thinking about how the heck you are going to fill three pages each day. What are you going to write about anyway?
Here’s the thing.
You don’t have to be a writer to start writing the morning pages. They are not about you scribbling out the first draft of your bestseller novel (even though it CAN turn out to be exactly that). The pages are about you having a conversation with yourself, the universe and everything between.
Just write ANYTHING that crosses your mind. And I mean ANYTHING. Writing skills has nothing to do with it, the deal with the pages is that you get a chance to clean your head and declutter your mind. If you really don’t have anything to write, start listing the items you see in front of you. It’s ok. The only thing you can’t do is stop writing. Just write the three pages and then close your book. Don’t open it until the next day, and resist the urge to read what you have written, at least for a month. You have to get some distance to the content on the pages, so that you can let it go eventually.
Don’t judge your writing. If you write some nasty things about a colleague that’s totally fine. Simply observe that those thoughts just popped out of your mind and down to the pages. Remember, no one is allowed to read the pages if you don’t let them. I know people who write three pages and then burn them right away. If you want you can do that. But I highly recommend that you save your pages for later. It is a pleasurable read when you look back, and often a relief to discover that you’ve come so far. You might not even remember things that were big issues for you back then. The hopes and dreams you scribble down might now be fulfilled without you even noticing when it happened.
Cause here’s the thing: getting it on paper does two things for you: first, you get it out of your head and don’t have to worry about it so much. And second, something truly magical happens when you start writing your thoughts down. The creativity kicks in, and I can’t explain that with anything else than pure magic. You start to let your creative force to run through you, and these moments are true magic.
Why three pages? Why not four? Or one?
It’s a reason for this. Cameron states that you have to have three pages to get whatever it is you’re thinking about out of your system. One and a half page is going to be just ordinary scribbling, but you need this in order to get to the other one and a half page, where the muse kicks in. According to my own experience this is 100% true and I believe that this is going to happen to you as well.
But what is the artist appointment then?
Besides sticking to the writing process every day, the method also encourages you to “book an appointment with your inner artist”. What is that exactly, you ask.
Well, the artist appointment is (at least) one hour a week where you listen to the child or artist within, and do whatever it wants to do. If the artist wants to climb trees, do that. If you have an urge to bake some cupcakes or just go for a walk, then do that.
The important thing here is that you don’t do what you think you’re supposed to do. Follow your artist, even though you don’t think it would suit your age, gender or whatever it might be. The artist knows what it wants to do. All you have to do is listen.
What you can expect when starting out with the Morning pages
Prepare for an emotional roller coaster the first two to three months of writing. You might be going through emotions of pain, suffering, joy, guilt, a trip to your childhood (and not always a good trip either) before you can start to feel cleansed. I cried so much during my first months with this method, but it was so worth it when I got myself through this cleansing phase. Cameron says that tears are the water of the soul, and as we all know nothing can grow without water.
Slowly, sometimes without you even noticing it, you are going to feel more and more confident, content and happy with how things are coming about. This is a wonderful state. Maybe you will start using your pages to write poems, or mindmapping a new project. The pages are your own space to discover the beauty that lies within. And you will discover that it’s growing with every page you write.
One thing that Cameron mentions is that you will start to notice syncronicities in the physical world around you. These are messages from your inner self. Be aware of them. She encourages you to list whenever you notice something peculiar in the world around you. Maybe you start seeing the same numbers all of a sudden, or you get a call from and old friend just when you were thinking about them. Observe when these events occur.
You might also start to have more vivid dreams, and if you’re a type of person that can’t remember your dreams, chances are you’re going to start doing that. The dreams can also be an important gateway to your inner self, so take notes of what you observe.
I really hope that you try this method out. It will reward you and shed so much light and clarity into your life.
If you have tried the method, how did it work out for you?