“It’s not for me.”
That’s what I said the first time I came across Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages. Spending 30 minutes in the morning writing random stuff in a journal seemed like a huge waste of time to me.
Plus, I don’t do handwriting. I know, I know, I’m a writer so I should love writing in all kinds of ways (by hand, on a laptop, heck even with lipstick on my mirror), right? Nope.
Words come to me at lightning speed, way faster than I can write them down on a piece of paper. And when I try to speed up, even I can’t decipher my crawls.
But the Morning Pages wouldn’t have that. Over the years, I kept hearing so many stories of how they helped that writer become unstuck, that blogger reduce her anxiety and that entrepreneur become more productive.
I wanted me some of that too. So I gave in and added the Morning Pages to my morning ritual. It didn’t quite go as planned…
What Are The Morning Pages?
The Morning Pages are one of the main tools Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, teaches blocked artists to unlock their creativity and move past their fears so they can finally start practicing their craft and share their work with the world.
I know what you’re thinking, “but I’m not an artist!”
Yes, you ARE. You are creative. All human beings are. Maybe you express your creativity in the kitchen, by coming up with new recipes all the time. Or in crafting new scientific experiments to test a new theory you’ve just come up with. Or in MacGyvering things.
So, yes, the Morning Pages can work for you too. But what the heck are they?
The idea is to write by hand three stream-of-consciousness pages every morning as soon as you wake up.
Dumping your every thoughts, all the nasty things your Inner Mean Girl tells you every day, the worries that keep you up at night onto the page so you can start the day with a clean slate.
Can you imagine what you could achieve if you didn’t have to worry about that all day long?
That’s the power of the Morning Pages.
The Bad About The Morning Pages
Did I already tell you I HATE writing by hand? When I first started doing the Morning Pages, all I could think was, “why can’t I just type on my laptop?! My thoughts are racing so fast and I can’t keep up!”
(Apparently, hand-writing helps you better connect to your thoughts. With typing, what you gain in speed, you lose in depth).
I wanted to give up SO bad, but I chalked it up to resistance and carried on.
Some mornings were more difficult than others. Morning Pages must be done as soon as possible after you wake up so you can free your mind of burdens, anxieties and Inner Mean Girls but my mind was often… empty. I couldn’t think of anything.
So I forced myself to wake up a little more and remember what happened the day before just to kickstart the stream of consciousness.
In a way it worked. Once I was in the flow, I found it hard to stop after three pages! On the other hand, I felt that in looking for things to write down to trigger the stream of consciousness, I would often focus on the negative things that happened to me.
Yes, the point is to get all the negativity out of your head (and life) but if I wasn’t thinking about it in the first place, should I really go looking for it just so I can write something down?
I felt like I could use my time to do something positive and focus on the good things, like filling in The 5-Minute Journal (I will tell you about that another day).
The Good About The Morning Pages
On the other hand, sometimes, something funny happened as a result of focusing on the bad stuff. While I started off describing a situation I had been involved in or a conversation I had the day before, I soon found myself discovering new insights and having ha-ha moments.
I didn’t so much experience then dump-the-crap-and-forget-about-it-for-the-rest-of-the-day effect but I did gain some powerful insights that helped me understand myself and why I act in a certain way a lot better.
Just, not as often as I’d like. I found that I gain a lot more clarity and insight when I follow on a specific journaling prompt rather than doing the stream-of-consciousness thingie. What works even better, for me, is a combination of the two.
Now, on most day I start answering a specific journaling prompt question, like “what are the negative messages about your body you’ve heard growing up?” and, if that alone isn’t enough to fill three pages, I’ll let my mind run wild and jot down everything I can think of.
Can I still say I’m doing the Morning Pages?
Probably not. But the secret to success isn’t following the rules blindly. It’s to experiment and tweak until you find what works for you.
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Over to you, now. Have you tried the Morning Pages and, if so, what was your experience with it? Share it in the comments below.