Morning pages

Morning pages were first introduced by Julia Cameron in her classic book, The Artist Way.

The practise involves writing 3 pages of stream-of -consciousness writing every morning upon waking. 

The purpose of morning pages is to clear the mind and eliminate any negative thoughts or distractions, allowing for more creativity and productivity throughout the day. 

It's also a great way to reflect on the previous day and get a sense of what you want to accomplish today. 

It's a form of journaling, it is not meant to be edited or shared but rather a tool for self-discovery and self-improvement.

Here's how it works

Get yourself a good quality notepad and then before your brain moves into overdrive, sit down and write three A4 size pages of whatever is on your mind. Julia Cameron calls this stream-of-consciousness.

You need to write with a pen or pencil on paper. It’s that simple. It does not mean the pages to be a tome. It’s just writing whatever it is you’re thinking of at the moment. Cannot think of anything. Well, just write ‘I cannot think of anything’ until you think of something. This rarely happens. 

You write non-stop. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling errors, nothing. Just write whatever is on your mind. Write for 3 pages. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included. Morning pages are not supposed to sound smart or intelligent. You are not writing a novel. If you want to rant, rave, or revolt it's ok just write it down.

Author Tim Ferris, TV host/author Janet Mock and producer/director Brian Koppelman all credit morning pages for transforming their lives, and their careers.

I discovered morning pages while listening to a podcast interviewing Brian Koppelman. It stirred my interest, so I tried it and have never missed a morning pages session since. That was nearly 3 years ago. This practice has also helped me significantly in my personal and business journey. If you have an issue with your personal life write it down. Business issues write it down. It is amazing what comes out. Most of the time it is the solution. 

Here’s how to make morning pages work for you…

1. The words come first.

In a perfect world, we’d all jump out of bed and start writing, but it is not always possible. There are different pressures on your morning schedule. Get the kids ready for school. Make breakfast. Meditate. Commuting, and so on. 

But always the pages have to come first. Make this a habit. 

It’s important to release your stream of consciousness before you do anything else. This takes discipline.

Whether you’re ranting on the pages or you’re working through a problem, science shows that you’re more likely to make creative connections and solve issues and come up with amazing ideas before your brain moves into go mode. I don't know how this happens, but trust me it happens.

2. Next find a quiet place

Turn off all devices. Ideally, you want to get into the flow and just start writing. You will write for anywhere between 20 - 30 minutes depending how fast you write. It’s important not to rush, but to go as fast or as slow as your mind comes up with things to write about.

Privacy is not an issue. If you are in a quiet place, no one is going to see what you write. This is a rule. Show no-one. This is your personal private business. So just be honest in what you write.

Set up in a quiet place. Make yourself comfortable. Write 3, A4 pages without stopping. Whatever is on your mind just write it down.

3. Just write — and write and write and write.

Don’t think too much about what you are writing. Just write anything that comes to mind. I mean anything, don’t hold back. Swearing is perfectly OK. The first few sentences are often just plain waffle. Small talk. How’s the weather looking today? What am I going to wear? Just meaningless dribble. It doesn’t matter just keep writing. Keep going. Don’t give up.

4. Pearls of Wisdom

The mystical stuff happens in my case at the back end of the last page. Sometimes they are so good I copy them to another folder later on in the week. These are the Pearls of Wisdom (PoW’s)

Honestly, you look back and so often I would ask myself, “where the hell did all this come from”?

There is no way I could have ever got a PoW without this process. It is sooo powerful. Please try it. If you never do anything else, please go do morning pages.

You can tell I’m a fan.

I have written mentoring ideas, presentation ideas, business ideas, business processes, solved family issues, worked out alternate strategies and on and on it goes. This simply works.

Then sometimes I’ve only written shite. That’s OK. It will not happen every morning. Sometimes I might go days, even weeks, before a PoW will emerge. But emerge it will. Guaranteed.

5. DELETE

Yes, delete the pages. Your morning pages are private. They’re your private diary or journal For Your Eyes Only. So you can be honest. No-one is seeing these, only you. Every few days, read them if you want to and then shred them. That’s what I used to do before I became high tech and got myself a new iPad and pencil. Now I write 3 (A4 type) pages on my iPad and simply delete them every 2 -5 days’ time permitting. I also lock them with a password. So my pages are as secure as I can get them. Even if someone broke the code, I doubt very much if they could decipher my handwriting. 

6. Rinse and Repeat

Make this a daily habit. Better still make this part of your morning scheduleMorning pages not only help to clear the mental clutter, but the PoW’s your mind has come up with will astonish you.

Morning pages penetrate your stream of consciousness and find new ways to understand different parts of what is going on in your life and also interesting aspects of your own personality. 

This is the best video I have found to give a clear understanding of how morning pages work.

NEVER GIVE UP

Just do it. Never give up.

The more you do morning pages the better they will work for you. Just like exercise, meditation, any other practice, the more you do the better you get. Morning pages can help with stress, anxiety, and difficult emotions that bug you from time to time. I know all this sounds weird, but believe me when I say this can change your life.

Here’s a final bit of encouragement. Morning pages might not always feel good, but that’s not a reason to stop. Never give up. Never miss a morning.

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