Try as I might, I’ve never been someone who is good at sticking with journaling. I’ve tried guided journals but usually, drop off after a few weeks. I think it probably stems from my mom reading my diary as a kid, not that I’m bitter or anything 😝. Don’t get me wrong, I know journaling is an amazing tool for many people and I have friends that swear by it for their overall wellbeing. I would never knock it. But recently, I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies by Tara Schuster, so I decided to commit to doing Morning Pages for 30 days.
What is Morning Pages?
If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s very simple. First thing in the morning, write three pages of whatever pops into your head. Just put pen to paper. According to Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, who also codified the exercise, “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.” 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. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not overthink Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
What is the point of Morning Pages?
Morning Pages serve a deeper purpose than typical “journaling.” This exercise is supposed to be a cathartic, ritualistic writing process that clears your mind, builds confidence and creates a path for greater creativity.
Morning Pages enable you to clear your mind. When you wake up, your mind is swimming with thoughts from the previous night. When you write off the top of your head first thing in the morning, the words that spill out onto the blank page will no longer be taking up space in your brain, and you can approach the rest of the day with more clarity.
Morning Pages allow you to process emotion. Life can be overwhelming. On top of personal stress, we are bombarded with heavy information in the news — and there’s A LOT right now. Morning Pages give you the space to vent, grieve and process news, freeing your mind from information that can weigh you down and affect your day-to-day.
Morning Pages unleash your creativity. Being creative takes discipline. By writing Morning Pages, you’re establishing a routine that will help you find a way to make time for your creative self. Once you get into the habit of writing morning pages, finding the time for your creative endeavors will come easier.
My experience with Morning Pages
To get started with morning pages, I prepped my writing station. I grabbed a brand-new notebook (is there anything better?) and my favorite pen and put them on my nightstand, along with a book light and lap desk. I tend to wake up earlier than anyone else in my household, so I didn’t want to risk waking up anyone else by getting out of bed and making noise, thus interrupting my Morning Pages. So each morning, I woke up, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, took a big drink of water to help wake up my body and mind, and got to writing.
My favorite notebook is this wide-ruled one with fun leaf imprints on the pages.
I sent myself an email at the beginning of my 30 days that just said, “I think I have carpal tunnel,” to remind myself when it came time to write this post. Man, I have seriously lost my writing muscles! We’re so used to laptops and smartphones that putting actual pen to paper literally caused me an injury the first few days. But, luckily, it was like riding a bike, and eventually, my wrist stopped whining and got used to writing three pages every morning.
Writing by hand forced me to slow down.
My husband always says I sound like I’m in a race with my keyboard, and I’ll admit I am a freakishly fast typer. But writing on a computer is a more emotionally detached practice. It helps keep our inner critic alive and well since we are so easily able to go back and fix our mistakes. Backspace, backspace, delete, delete. It yields us speed and distance, but not the depth that we are looking for. Writing by hand allowed me to slow down and really connect with my thoughts first thing in the morning, even if they were jumbled.
Morning Pages helped me miss my therapist less
I’ve been taking a break from my beloved weekly therapy sessions recently because of COVID and time restraints, and boy do I miss it. Therapy is my self-care. But I noticed with Morning Pages; it helped dull the feeling of missing my therapist just a bit. Because of a lot of thoughts that I would normally only share with her, I put down on the pages. It definitely isn’t a replacement for therapy, but it’s a good placeholder. Honestly, just putting those thoughts and feelings on paper helped release a bit of my tension and unpack my emotions before starting my day. But clearly, now I have to burn the notebook, so no one finds it 😂.
My mind felt less cluttered as I started the day
Morning Pages are a literal brain dump on a page. It was almost like I could feel the physical release of those thoughts after I eventually crawled out of bed and got on with my morning routine. I felt lighter as I made breakfast for my son. I can’t really explain why, but somehow doing Morning Pages made me feel more hopeful and ready to take on the day. Something about seeing my thoughts and feeling poured out onto paper before doing anything else in the day helped calm the anxiety in my head where I would normally subconsciously think about those thoughts and feelings until I felt some sort of resolution, whether it be positive or negative.
I didn’t have a big creative breakthrough
Morning Pages isn’t a magical cure for creative blocks. I didn’t have some big, earth-shattering breakthrough at the end of my 30 days. But I do find myself fully onboard the process. In Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies, author Tara Schuster talks about how she can’t go a morning without writing her pages first thing. She’ll even bring a notebook with her when she spends the night elsewhere. And I totally get why now. Morning Pages feels almost like that big glass of water I drink in the morning to wake up my body and mind. It’s like flowers that close up tightly at night, only to slowly unfurl with the sunlight begins to break through, leaving you feeling fresh, open to the world and ready to take on the day.