How To Do Morning Pages (+ Prompts To Reconnect With Your Creativity)
What if there was one clear way to stress less, feel more creative and come up with better ideas? Turns out, there is. It’s called Morning Pages. And it’s a regular practice for millions of creatives around the world.
The Artist’s Way and Morning Pages
Morning Pages is a tool that originates inside The Artist’s Way, a book written and released by Julia Cameron back in 1992. The goal? To help readers with something called creative recovery.
The book describes itself as a journey that’ll help your creativity to recover from limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage and any other blockers that might be stifling you from reaching your full potential.
Julia puts forward a variety of tools to empower readers to rediscover their creative flow but it’s Morning Pages that has taken the world by storm.
The practice of Morning Pages might sound almost dismissable - write three pages of conscious thought each morning and your creativity will see dramatic results. But it’s the results and stories of proponents of Morning Pages that have us talking.
“I wanted to get past a writing block, and heard loads about The Artist's Way, and thought it might help.The change I've noticed most is that it has made a space for just being and taking notice of my inner world and the one around me again. There's no goal. You don't even know what's going to come until the ink starts flowing. And noticing is how you find inspiration and get past the blocks. It opens up what can sometimes become a blinkered view.”
Sasha, @frankandfeel. A creative writer, podcaster and journalling enthusiast and workshop host. She also hosts the weekly podcast, This Is Your RemindHer
The Morning Pages benefits
When you start to understand the intention behind Morning Pages, its benefits suddenly make a lot of sense.
Morning Pages isn’t about writing your next novel or planning out your next painting before the sun is up. It’s far more rudimentary than that. And that’s why it works.
You simply write about whatever’s on your mind. Your worries. Fears. Hopes. Dreams. Frustrations. Even your to-do list.
“Just because something you write isn't directly connected to the other projects you may be working on right now, doesn't mean it could be of use down the line. And further, the exploration itself is the usefulness. It makes way for an appointment for the mind to simply breathe and wander. How often do we give ourselves the opportunity to do that?”
Every single distraction that comes into your head when you “should” be creating? That’s exactly what your Morning Pages is for. To get those diversions out of your head and onto the page instead.
As Danielle Hall, a multi-passionate creative who’s obsessed with Mexican food and oracle decks, told us:
“The noise and static in my head upon waking each morning needed an outlet - a safe place to let it all out and let it all go, in a meaningful, creative way.”
And the Morning Pages’ benefits really speak for themselves...
- Less stress, now that you’re not constantly worrying about the chores you’ve forgotten to do
- More mindfulness, as you start to ignore distractions and focus on yourself instead
- Improved mental health, as you start to connect with your worries and stop pushing them below the surface
- A deeper understanding of self, as you tune into your thoughts and emotions rather than letting them pass you by
And, of course, more creativity. As Julia says, “when you put the negativity on the page, it isn’t eddying through your consciousness during the day”.
By creating the space for creativity, you’re able to welcome those ideas you’ve been craving in. You’re able to act on them. And to bring them to life.
Since welcoming the practice of morning pages into her life, Danielle’s not only discovered new perspectives but mental clarity too.
“Being able to get it all out onto paper, and seeing the bigger picture not only puts things into perspective, but gives me mental clarity and spaciousness for all the good and gratitude.”
How to do Morning Pages
Step 1: Set aside some time before your day begins
If you’re one of those people who always have an hour or so to spare each morning, we salute you! Finding a quiet place to spend 30 minutes or so writing out your Morning Pages shouldn’t be too big of a challenge.
But, if you’re like us, and the day always seems to get away from you… here’s what to do. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal. And go to bed 30 minutes earlier the night before.
Sure, it’s not rocket science. Yet it’s something we all forget to do! Give yourself the gift of time so you’re not rushed. That way, you can discover the true benefits of Morning Pages (without checking your watch every 30 seconds).
Step 2: Choose a quiet corner of your home
This decision will be totally personal to you. It could be your kitchen table, your bed, your office or you could even make like Glennon Doyle and write from inside your closet.
The key is to make sure it’s quiet and free from distractions. This is your time to focus on yourself. So don’t let anyone else get in your way.
Step 3: Get yourself a notebook you can’t wait to write in
Your Morning Pages are just for you. They don’t need to be shared with anyone else. They don’t need to be over-analysed. And they certainly don’t need to be read again later that day.
So get yourself a notebook that has one purpose - to write your Morning Pages in, and that’s it.
Try to pick one with a design that you really love. So it can feel like a natural part of your decor (because it’s much easier to remember to write in something when you’re leaving it on your bedside table).
Step 4: Close the door on your ego and turn your stream of consciousness into three pages of writing
Your Morning Pages do not have to be good writing. We’ll say it again. Your Morning Pages do not have to be good writing.
Just connect your pen to the page and let the words come out. Stay until you’ve reached your three-page goal and then call it a day.
The reason for that target of three pages? It’s so that even on your most uninspired days, when nothing’s coming to the surface, you have three whole pages to find some inspiration. Those are the days when you need your Morning Pages the most.
Step 5: Repeat it all over again the next day, and the next. Make Morning Pages part of your daily routine
There will be days when the last thing you want to do is write. That’s okay. You’re still going to complete your Morning Pages.
Even if those three pages turn into the most negative three pages you’ve ever written. That’s okay.
Your aim is always to clear your mind. Julia says your Morning Pages could just be about the items currently on your to-do list. They can be whining, grumpy or even angry. You need to get those emotions out of your head so you have more space for creativity instead.
Morning Pages prompts
The concept of Morning Pages prompts isn’t exactly an “official” prescription from The Artist’s Way.
Instead, Julia Cameron recommends that you simply write and see what happens. You’re not trying to control your passing thoughts. Instead, you’re just accepting them and getting them out onto the page.
However. Sometimes it can help to have a few prompts to follow when you’re first getting started. So, if you’re feeling blocked, give these Morning Pages prompts a try:
- What are you worrying about right now?
- What are you looking forward to?
- What memory do you keep coming back to throughout your day?
- What do you wish you could be doing this week?
- How do you feel about the day ahead?
- What’s on your to-do list right now?
- What do you keep forgetting about?
- What’s frustrating you this week?
- What are your biggest procrastinators at the moment?
- How do you physically feel in this present moment?
The best notebook for Morning Pages
When you’re searching for a Morning Pages notebook there are few things you’re going to want to look out for. The best notebooks for Morning Pages should be plain and simple.
Ideally, they should be lined journals. The lines make the notebook easy to write in, whilst keeping your pages relatively neat and tidy. Whilst the notebook’s sole dedication to journaling means that you’re not going to get distracted. Writing in the back of your planner simply isn’t going to work for your Morning Pages!
Pick a notebook that you love with a design that you feel proud to keep on display. You want a notebook you love so much, you’ll actually want to use it every day.
As with anything, Morning Pages is all about giving something new a go and trusting the process. There’s only one way to find out if you like it - try it for yourself!