The morning pages are what Julia Cameron describes as ‘a pivotal tool in creative recovery’ in her book The Artist’s Way. She explains the morning pages as ‘three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness’ and also as a ‘brain dump’. I prefer the definition ‘brain dump’.
She notes that they are not supposed to sound smart, or have any particular purpose or direction except to empty your mind of all the chatter and nonsense in there. Just basically write down whatever comes to mind and keep your hand moving.
I do a sort of version of the morning pages. I say a sort of version because I don’t strictly follow the rule of keeping your hand moving at all times. I often pause to think or reflect, ponder, reconsider, then keep writing. Some days I write two pages, some days six. This is what works best for me.
I write about whatever is on my mind.
Often I am repetitive, complaining about something for days on end, or I’m listing the things I’m grateful for, or why I’m happy. It can be as simple as moaning about the things I have to do that day that I would rather avoid, or as profound as stumbling upon some sudden insight about myself. Sometimes I reflect on dreams I’ve had, or on what the day may have in store. Sometimes I start talking about one thing and end up somewhere else altogether.
Regardless, I show up each morning, first thing (after making a cup of coffee, of course) and write whatever is on my mind, for an allotted amount of time (30-45 minutes) rather than three pages.
You should write for whatever amount of time works for you – you might find that 10 minutes is enough, or that you need an hour. It may be different from day to day. Be flexible as you need. I think it’s important to respect how we are feeling at the time, rather than striving for some arbitrary time/page goal.
Some days I struggle to say much. Other days I feel like I could keep writing for hours. It doesn’t matter – the important thing is to just sit down and write whatever is on my mind.
There are a few tricks you can use if you are struggling to get started, if you feel the words just aren’t flowing:
- Write about your physical surroundings – e.g. the room, the chair you’re sitting on, what you can smell, how your body feels, and so on
- Write a list of what you are most grateful for at that moment
- Describe the day before
- Sit still and pay attention to your mind. You might find that you are worrying about something, distracted by preparing breakfast for the kids, or the fact that the car needs repairing, or that you didn’t pay a bill that’s overdue – once you notice what is going on in your mind, write it down
- Write about what you hope for in the day to come
- Sometimes we are overwhelmed by all the things we want to say at once, so just writing a list of key words and sentences rather than big lengthy paragraphs can be helpful
- Start with sentences such as: I feel… I’m worried about… I’m thinking about…My body feels… I wish… and so on
Hopefully that gives you a little something to get started! I would love to hear from anyone who has tried morning pages before. Now, get writing!
You can access more journaling resources here.