Morning Pages can change my life?
It’s a pretty big statement I know. That something so simple could change your life. Yet that’s exactly what happened. I learned about morning pages, and started to do them every day.
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It was nothing short of miraculous.
I was married to an alcoholic. My step-children were acting out, and we were so strapped for cash.
A nightmare that I didn’t think I would survive. Was I depressed? Looking back, I’m sure I was.
I do know that I felt that my entire life was out of control. A dear friend of mine felt she could no longer sit on the sidelines and offered to help. Help came in the form of a book she loaned to me. It was called The Artist’s Way.
I want to show you the amazing benefits and how easy it is to use morning pages in your daily routine. And to share with you my story, and how I learned about the power of Morning Pages.
Will morning pages change your life? I can’t be certain about that, but I do know that you will experience a peacefulness from writing every day.
Let me show you how.
What are morning pages?
In The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron tells us that morning pages are a way to clear your mind. It’s like a writing meditation and lets you dump any and everything that comes to mind.
The idea behind the book is that writing morning pages allows your creative self to emerge from behind the noise you currently have in your life.
The Artist’s Way has helped thousands of people find their creative selves. It’s become a recovery program for creativity.
This can be cathartic when you are balancing many issues. Like my friend Katie. Katie is in her mid 40’s. She juggles her career, a horrible commute to her job, as well as the demands of raising two teenagers with her husband. He also travels constantly for his job.
If that weren’t enough, Katie’s parents are rapidly aging, so she tries to spend quality time with them. She takes them to their medical appointments and anything else they need.
Not much time left for Katie.
She would love to take a day, just for herself. Go for a massage, or a pedicure. Right now, she would be happy with a foot rub.
With everything that’s going on, Katie hasn’t been sleeping well either. And she would love to fit some exercise in to her day.
It’s all just so personal too, so these are issues she just doesn’t feel like sharing with her best friend.
So Katie recently heard about the benefits of morning pages on YouTube. She doesn’t have time to read the book right now, but bought it anyway, so she’ll be ready.
In the meantime, she has started her morning pages. Every morning, at the same time, and in the same location of her house, she writes three full pages of stuff. It’s stuff, because it’s really just a freefall of words and thoughts. Whatever comes to mind.
When Katie doesn’t have much to say, she writes anything at all. ”Yesterday I went to work, the subway was crazy, and I didn’t get out for a walk at lunch time.”
Other days, she expresses her frustration about the lack of help she gets at home from her husband and two kids. Why can’t they just do their fair share?
And morning pages are deeply personal. No one else will see them. These are your thoughts, completely uncensored. So be prepared. If there is some big issue bubbling below the surface, It’s bound to make its way to the top.
Like Katie’s issue about getting more help from her family.
Like my issue about whether to stay in a marriage to an alcoholic husband or not.
How long do morning pages take?
Writing three handwritten pages every morning can take minutes if the words are flowing. The trick is not to let your inner voice censor you. Don’t think about what you want to say, ok?
This isn’t a sprint. Getting into the habit of writing morning pages is a marathon, and my hope for you is that after 12 weeks, you keep at it for life.
What is the purpose of morning pages?
The original purpose of writing morning pages was to recover your creativity. To write three pages of whatever comes to mind in order to start to clear out the fodder that’s been lurking there. You know the kind of stuff I mean.
Self-doubt, too many things to do or juggle, feeling mentally exhausted, even “what’s the use?” Julia Cameron says that when we feel “what’s the use?” that’s really fear in disguise.
Morning pages can help you with that fear, those feelings of helplessness.
Keep reading, ok?
What is creativity and why is overcoming our fears about creativity so important?
Author Julia Cameron believes that morning pages will help us “to clear the emotional junk from our lives, to make way for our creative self.” That creativity might be writing, creating art, singing, whatever creative pursuit you wish to develop.
In her book, “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”, author Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) believes that our creativity is held back by fear.
Why is this important to you?
Understanding the connection between fear and creativity will help you to see how your morning pages exercises will help you.
You might not be there yet, and really not understand what it is that’s bugging you.
But typically fear is what holds us back.
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear that you will offend someone
- Fear that you can’t afford to change
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of what your creativity might look like
- Fear of what you might uncover by starting to write morning pages
One week of morning pages will definitely help you to open up to any fears you may have and get you on the path to recognizing your creativity.
How do I get started writing morning pages?
Julia Cameron says “there is no wrong way to do morning pages”
Just getting started is the key.
Now you may think you are way too busy to try morning pages. I know and I understand. No time, too many things to juggle, too tired.
But that’s why we’re here right?
You need some help, and I’m here to guide through the benefits that Morning Pages will bring to your life.
What are the best journals for morning pages?
Find a beautiful journal to write in, even a special pen if you wish. I love to find hard cover journals with pretty floral covers at the Dollar store, or in the bargain bins of department stores.
Morning pages journals can even be loose leaf paper, or or a spiral bound notebook.
For those of you who love printables, I’ve created a digital Morning Pages Workbook that you can download to get started for the first week.
It’s set out to give you morning pages prompts to get that creative muscle working!
You can get it at the end of this article.
Morning Pages v. Journaling
You might be wondering, Isn’t morning pages just another name for journaling? Not at all.
Morning pages have specific rules attached to them:
-Write first thing in the morning
-Write three pages by hand
-Write at the same time, in the same location
-Do not think about what you are writing
-Do not reread what you have written
Journaling on the other hand really doesn’t have any rules.
You can write one page or ten, twenty even! You could be keeping a Health Journal, a Gratitude Journal, or a Prayer Journal.
Journaling is up to the individual and can help as:
-Keeping a diary – such as a travel journal
-A way to document an exercise or weight-loss plan
-Record your feelings of what is going on in your life
-A way to write about experiences, chronicle family events
-A form of self-expression if you will
Can I do morning pages at night?
The purpose of morning pages is to help you to clear your mind at the beginning of the day, following a specific set of rules. Like a journal meditation if you will.
If you want to write your journal this way, you can write your morning pages whenever it works best for you. Remember the only rules are to write without censoring, write three pages, and try to write in the same location at the same time every day.
So if your schedule means that the best time for is at night, then that’s fine.
Morning pages are only supposed to take about 10-15 minutes each day. So if you choose to do your writing at night, be prepared that you may uncover thoughts or emotions that could keep you from sleeping that night!
Morning pages can change your life.
Let’s ask Katie how morning pages is changing her life.
“I started writing morning pages about three weeks ago, after learning about them through a friend. About one week in, I was already feeling more in control of my emotions, and thinking more clearly.
Getting all of the frustration, anxiety, and negative thoughts out on paper has started to help me clear the way.
I haven’t missed a day. Even when I think there is nothing to write about, it just comes. And I don’t take much more than fifteen minutes a day. But that fifteen minutes has helped me clear out the cobwebs if you know what I mean!
Just yesterday I thought I would like to get back to creative writing. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book. That in itself has made me so happy!
One of my biggest frustrations was the lack of help around the house from my spouse and kids. I wrote all about it one morning.
The next day I called a family meeting, and using my notes, shared my feelings. Everyone was surprised, and said they will step up. I’m not expecting miracles here, but it’s a start.
I’m still going to keep writing my morning pages, maybe forever. Even after a short period of time, it’s like something sacred. I just don’t want to give it up.”
So how did morning pages change my life?
Let me tell you.
Many of my readers know about my journey as a wife to an alcoholic and stepmother.
Morning pages not only changed my life, I believe morning pages save my life.
Every day I would sit in a chair in the corner of my dining room and write my three pages. Sometimes I would have a pretty journal, but often all I had was a pad of paper, probably something I brought home from work.
I would put stickers on the pages every day. They were cheap and I could get them at the dollar store. Pretty floral stickers, or Angel stickers. Those were my favorites.
As the weeks went by, I kept writing. Anything and everything. What I was feeling, my frustrations with our family life, our financial situation.
And my mind started to clear.
I had been so mired in misery, and self-pity that I was barely functioning.
Get up, go to work, come home, and medicate with food. That was my life.
I started to have thoughts about writing again, creatively. Writing stories about my experiences. I did that and created a newsletter, and that helped for a time.
I began to understand that my husband’s illness was not my fault, and that only he could change it. I realized that I deserved to be happy, and with the help of God, my family and my faith, I could leave if I chose to do so.
I chose to leave.
Morning pages gave me courage. They helped me to examine my fears.
I will never give them up.
I want to thank you for staying with me, and reading this article. I hope I’ve inspired you a little to take control of your own life, and use the tool of Morning Pages to help you start your day with a clear mind and heart.
Nora Ephron said…
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
You can download your morning pages prompts workbook right now. Just click the image.
Julia Cameron, the author of The Artists Way, has a great website that you can link to.
I’ve been writing morning pages for over 30+ years.
They have helped me get through the best of times and the worst of times.
Morning Pages are and will always be, my constant companion.
I hope that they become part of your life too.
Resource: The Artists Way, Julia Cameron