By Jennifer Blanchard
Morning Pages are something that have plagued me since I discovered them three years ago.
This exercise in creative-unblocking was created by Julia Cameron, author of the international bestseller, The Artist Way, and is touted as a very effective tool for “overcoming writer’s block.”
I was pretty intrigued by the idea of Morning Pages. I mean, it made sense: Writing three stream-of-consciousness pages every morning upon waking helps you move past the stuff that keeps you stuck (in life and in writing).
Morning Pages have been on my “to-do” list for the last three years.
Then the other day I was reading The Writing Diet (Also by Cameron) and she had so many testimonials of students who used Morning Pages and had amazing results that I decided it was time to give them a try.
My Two-Week Experiment
On March 29, I woke up 15 minutes earlier than I usually did and grabbed my purple notebook. I went into my bedroom closet (so I didn’t wake my boyfriend or dog up) and wrote my Morning Pages. Then I got ready and went to work.
The next day, I did the same thing. And the next day, again, same thing.
On and on for 14 mornings.
And here’s what I discovered:
- I had a much more positive attitude—By writing out all my complaints first thing in the morning, I no longer carried negativity around. My days were filled with positive energy.
- I complained a lot less–Complaining to my Morning Pages first thing when I woke up stopped me from clogging my day with complaints.
- I felt clearer and more focused—My days felt like they started out clear and fresh. I wasn’t carrying ‘baggage’ into my day; I wasn’t muddied up by worries and doubts and anxieties.
- I was late for work almost every day—Yes, Morning Pages do take time, so if you’re going to attempt them (and I highly recommend that you do), be sure to give yourself at least 15 minutes. I am working on getting up 15 minutes earlier so I’m still on time and can keep up my Morning Pages routine.
My biggest discovery of all, however, was how many ideas and opportunities I attracted!
My Morning Pages literally unclogged my brain and my life. Over the last two weeks, the following things have happened, all of which I attribute to my Morning Pages:
- I fixed the plot of the story I wrote two years ago and have been trying to revise ever since. For two years I played out scenario after scenario, and nothing worked. There was always a hole somewhere. But last week, I solved the puzzle.
- I attracted unexpected money—I’ve been trying to attract money for months now, but I was clogged with negativity and focusing on the wrong things. My Morning Pages took away my negativity and helped me focus on what I wanted. Getting unexpected money is sweet.
- I received a new writing opportunity—I’m trying to start a health coaching business, but I’ve been too scared to put myself out there. By talking about these fears in my Morning Pages, I was able to muster up the courage to e-mail the creator of a Web site I want to write for. Not only did she respond right away, but she loved my idea and said they were looking for someone exactly like me. Now I’m going to be a regular columnist (more details to come!).
- I received pages and pages of blog post ideas—I’ve had so many blog post ideas (and story ideas for that matter) over the last two weeks I’m going to need an entire notebook for them.
- I have been eating healthier—I confessed to my Morning Pages that I hadn’t been eating very well the last couple weeks, and that I wanted to get back on track. The more I talked about it in my Morning Pages, the more I wanted to eat healthy food. And the more I wanted to eat healthier, the more I did.
- I discovered a lot about myself—Morning Pages helped me realize how stressed I’ve been, how unhappy I am at my day job and how badly I want to work for myself. I also discovered that I have a black-or-white mindset (see below for more).
- I’ve begun giving up my “black and white” mindset—I tend to be an all-or-nothing person; I either do it all the way or I don’t do it at all. Seeing things as distinctly black or white is never a good idea, because there are shades of gray everywhere. So I’m working on giving that up. Morning Pages are helping me immensely with this.
Morning Pages have literally transformed my life in a matter of two weeks. This is definitely one writing routine I can get behind. It’s totally worth being late for.
Interested in Morning Pages? Here are the details:
Morning Pages are three handwritten, stream-of-consciousness pages that you write every day, as soon as you wake up, before you do anything else.
What that means is, every morning, as soon as you wake up, you pull out your notebook and write your Morning Pages: “I just woke up. My head hurts. I need some coffee. I want to go back to sleep. Did I finish that blog post last night? I think I did, but I can’t remember. Oh and did I take the garbage out?”… You get the picture.
Write whatever comes to your head. Doesn’t matter what it is. Complain, talk about the dream you just had, write down everything you have to do that day—write anything.
After you finish writing your Morning Pages, put your notebook away and get on with your day.
There is no right or wrong way to write Morning Pages, and there are only have three rules:
- No Judgment—You’re writing these pages stream-of-consciousness. That means you think it, you write it down. Doesn’t matter what you write, just write it. Don’t look back; don’t stop to think about what you’re writing.
- No Restraint—Morning Pages are meant to be writing your thoughts, without retraining yourself. Write down whatever thoughts you have. Keep the flow going. And don’t hold back. Ever.
- Don’t Stop Writing—Every morning, put your pen on the paper and don’t pick it up until you’ve finished three pages. And write them every day. Consistency is key to results.
And don’t worry, these pages are just for your eyes. You don’t show them to anyone else. No one sees them, but you.
Morning Pages Tips
Before you get started with your Morning Pages, here are some important things to know:
- Weekends will be harder than weekdays—My weekdays are pretty structured; I get up at the same time, I go to work at the same time. But on the weekends, I sleep in, which caused me to forget about my Pages. (I did still write them, but after I put my contacts in and took the dog out, not right when I woke up).
- You’ll need to remind yourself—Until Morning Pages become a habit for you (which usually takes about 30 to 60 days), you will need a reminder so you write them consistently. What’s been effective for me is a Post-It on my bathroom mirror that says, “Morning Pages.”
- If you draw a blank, write about it—Sometimes during stream-of-consciousness writing you can lose track of your thought. If this happens, use it. Just write, “I don’t know what to write,” over and over again until another thought comes to you. Or you can write about not having anything to write about.
- Try your very best to write them as soon as you get up—Yes, it can be hard to do this, but you will get the best results this way. I found on the days that I did something else before writing my Morning Pages that it was more difficult for me to write them. I wasn’t as stream-of-consciousness as I would’ve been if I had just woken up. Now I don’t even put my contacts in, I just sit down and write.
Give Morning Pages a two-week trial and see what results you unblock.
Have you ever attempted Morning Pages? What was your experience like?
Ed. Note: I updated my results from this experiment at the one-year mark.
Also, the link to the Writing Diet book is an affiliate link. I appreciate your support.-jb