Morning Pages: A Powerful Habit That Can Change Your Life
The Morning pages can be your private sanctuary where you gather yourself before the start of the day.
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Back when I was in college, I stumbled upon something Julia Cameron, the author of Artist’s Way, calls Morning Pages.
I had seen it mentioned in a few sites across the internet, and people spoke about it in glowing terms.
Some went so far as to say that doing the Morning Pages completely changed their lives. Writer Elizabeth Gilbert says that if it wasn't for the Morning Pages (and Artist’s Way), she would have never written the book Eat, Pray, Love, which became a massive bestseller, selling over 10 million copies and even got made into a Hollywood movie.
So what exactly is Morning Pages? Here’s how Julia Cameron defines it.
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand (hand written), 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. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.”
After doing the Morning Pages myself over the past few years, I have discovered that while this can be a simple and straightforward practice, there’s a lot that happens once you start doing it.
My experience with Morning Pages
I see Morning Pages as an inner exploration of my thoughts, feelings, experiences, ideas, observations and dreams.
What I find most interesting about them is that I never know where I may wander and end up while I am doing them. What comes through me during these sessions can sometimes completely take me by surprise, and it's helped me discover new interests and aspects of myself that I never knew existed.
While I am thinking, I usually find it challenging to maintain a long train of thought without letting myself get distracted. And that’s where doing the Morning Pages can be useful, as writing my thoughts down gives a flow to my thinking that helps me to think deeper and have long dialogues with myself.
Many times I have come out of these sessions with some insights, inspirations, breakthroughs or even just some advice to myself. I find that sometimes referring to myself in the third person gives me a better perspective, and I can offer myself some great advice, which I rarely have access to otherwise.
Sometimes just putting down my unhelpful and nagging thoughts on paper is all that is required to release them or to deal with them a lot better.
But more than anything, what I love most about the morning pages, is the process itself more than the benefits that arise as a result of doing this practice. Doing them makes me lose track of time, and I feel a sense of aliveness and contentment.
I must confess that it’s not something I always do first thing in the morning and there have also been periods in my life when I’ve skipped them due to resistance and laziness. But I have observed that my life feels better when I actually end up doing it.
The Morning Pages were my first real foray into actually writing something for a few pages, and if it wasn’t for doing them, I doubt this blog would exist.
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How to do the Morning Pages
While doing the Morning Pages it’s best not to second guess or edit what you write. The point of this exercise is not to write anything beautiful, poetic or even grammatically correct but to just write whatever crosses your mind, even if it doesn’t make sense.
While you are doing the Morning Pages, there will most likely be times when you feel like there is nothing more left in you to write, after doing a page or two.
The key is to push through the urge to stop and force yourself to keep going until you have completed three pages. And this is often where the magic starts to happen, and you may end up receiving new ideas and inspirations.
Keep moving your hands even if you feel stuck and don’t lift them up from the page until you are done. Here’s what Cameron says,
“If you can’t think of anything to write, then write, “I can’t think of anything to write....”Do this until you have filled three pages. Do anything until you have filled three pages. ...........Your mood doesn’t matter. We have this idea that we need to be in the mood to write. We don’t."
And remember, “Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.”
She recommends doing the Morning Pages on a book with pages roughly the size of an A4 size paper. She also stresses the importance of doing the pages first thing in the morning as our logical part of our brain filled with inhibitions and judgement is not as active when we wake up.
Information overload is one challenge that many of us face in our daily lives. Endless messages, notifications, opinions from the news, social media... can flood our lives and make us lose our centre.
The Morning pages can be your private sanctuary to retreat to, to gather yourself before the start of the day, to let go of mental clutter, to get your priorities straight, and generate ideas for living an inspired life.
However, don’t wait to feel inspired or motivated before you do the Morning Pages. Give it a shot for a couple of weeks and see if it makes any difference in your life, and then decide if it’s worth continuing.
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