Last Updated on February 11, 2020
Have you heard of morning pages before? I’d seen this term all over the internet, but I’d never thought it could be worth the effort.
After all, writing three pages of stream of consciousness thoughts every day seemed like a lot of work. Though I’ve always loved journaling, I’d never felt like I needed more than one or two pages to write out my thoughts.
Well, I decided to look more into the morning pages to see what the fuss was about. Turns out, morning pages are a game-changer. I’ve liked the process so much that I’m still doing it after giving it a try for a whole one month.
Writing morning pages has helped me dig into things I’d usually avoid, and I’ve been more productive since making them part of my morning routine. In this post, I’m sharing what morning pages is all about and how my experience with writing daily has changed my mindset.
What are morning pages?
Where they came from
Morning pages originated from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. Cameron describes morning pages as “three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.”
As a writer, she’s used this method herself and when working with artists who have lost their creative spark. If you don’t consider yourself to be creative, you might be thinking this isn’t doesn’t apply to you. But if you’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, you’ll know already that we are all creative.
Creativity is often associated with art, but every day we find creative solutions to problems that make our lives easier. Creativity can happen in our work, relationships, and everyday occurrences.
Morning pages aren’t just for writers or artists. They’re also not a tool to help you improve your writing (although it most likely will since you’re writing so often). They simply help you to clean out the junk that goes on in your mind, and anyone can benefit from that.
Why you should write morning pages
Why would anyone want to fill three pages of random thoughts? Here are a few key reasons:
1. To clear your mind – Morning pages help you to clear your mind of cobwebs and get to the root of why you might be feeling stuck or unmotivated. As Cameron says, “The pages are intended to sweep our consciousness clean.”
2. To move beyond fear and negativity – Cameron says morning pages get us to the other side of our fear, negativity, and moods. When we’re unmotivated, we tend to criticize ourselves and we feel like we’re never doing enough. By spilling your thoughts every morning, you learn to ignore your inner critic.
3. To understand who you are – When you write about what’s on your mind every day, you start to know yourself more. Cameron says, “The pages are a pathway to a strong and clear sense of self.”
What to write about
Cameron says nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be written about. One day, I literally wrote about how I pinched my elbow in the closet door and it really hurt ? Morning pages aren’t supposed to be ground-breaking because they’re not to be read by anyone (and actually Cameron doesn’t want you to read what you’ve written for the first two months). The only thing she says not to write about is your dreams from the night before.
Knowing that I had to write three pages forced me to get all of the cobwebs out of my head. There were days when writing three pages felt like too little, but there were also times when it felt like pulling teeth.
“Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye—this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.”Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
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.”
I would write, ‘What do I need to get off my chest right now?’ or ‘What’s floating through my mind right now’ when I had absolutely nothing to write about.
Related Post: How To Start A Journaling Practice (+25 Free Prompts)
What I’ve learned from morning pages
Here are three key things I learned after writing morning pages for a month:
1. I’m doing better than I think
Usually, the first page of my morning pages ends up being about what I need to do that day or how I’m annoyed at myself for not waking up earlier. Apparently my stream of consciousness likes to focus on to-do lists.
This made me realize that I don’t write much about my own feelings. I decided to do daily check-ins with myself, usually around page two of my morning pages, to ask myself how I was feeling. This helped me to notice when things were actually going pretty well. If you only write about your feelings when you’re sad, you tend to miss the moments when you feel content. Checking in with my feelings has helped me to realize that things are usually going better in my life than I think they are.
2. I’m more productive after I write
Sometimes I didn’t feel like writing morning pages because it seemed like a lot of effort, but I always knew I would feel better afterward. Most of the time, I actually wanted to write though. I knew that it would give me more mental clarity before work, but I also knew I’d feel a sense of accomplishment after doing it.
A lot of what I wrote would be a combination of things I got done the day before and needed to finish or things I wanted to start working on (clearly I value being productive ?). If there was a project I was procrastinating on, I would write about why I was feeling unmotivated.
Morning pages helped me to uncover that it was often my own inner critic that was holding me back. Writing helped me to find ways to move past any doubt. After writing, I was usually more productive during the day because I’d a) found the root of my procrastination and b) written down a plan to get things done.
3. I can be consistent with things
Most of all, writing morning pages for a whole month taught me that it’s possible for me to be consistent. I often struggle with consistency and tend to fall off the bandwagon with a new habit after a week.
Before I started writing morning pages, I would only journal when I felt like I needed it. That meant I could convince myself that I didn’t really need to write when I was feeling lazy. Having the structure of writing every (weekday) morning meant I could finally be consistent with journaling.
Now my routine when I wake up is to do my skincare routine, make a cup of tea, and then get started with my morning pages. I realize that I don’t have to be in a certain mood to write because the words will always come if I give them a chance.
Overall, I felt that it was worth my time to write three pages every day, and I plan to continue with morning pages as part of my daily routine.
Would you ever try morning pages?
I hope this post has given you some insight into what morning pages are and why you should consider writing them. Let me know if you think it would be worth the effort!
I wrote morning pages religiously for over two years. Not sure why I fell off the wagon but I have thought about starting up again. I found it to be mildly cathartic and it satisfied my fondness of filling up notebooks.
That’s true, I will definitely fill all of the empty notebooks I have lying around if I keep it up! Thanks for reading, Karen!
Would it defeat the purpose if you did this a little later in the morning? IE when I get up it’s to quickly workout and then get the kids meals and themselves ready before going to school and work. I don’t have time to get up even earlier to do this without getting stressed.
I don’t think so! If that’s the time that works for you, then that’s the time that works for you :)
I love this idea – will definitely give it a go
I notice a shift in mood when I do morning pages and I’m often amazed at how different I feel. If I wake up feeling kind of “flat” or down or just unmotivated, I’ll often come out on the other side after writing for a while. It helps me collect my thoughts and figure out what I can do next. Not knowing what to do next can make me freeze and feel stuck, so I appreciate that writing can help so much with this. Thanks for giving morning pages the spotlight it deserves!:)
I think this activity should be very satisfactory after a while, I will definitely start it. I feel that it can be a bit difficult to fill three pages every day so I will take advantage of the fact that I have small notebooks to do so. I am very excited to make this project a morning/daily routine, give myself time while I drink my cup of coffee to write what my mind and my heart dictate to me at that moment. Thanks for the post!
Hello Catherine! I found your blog through a Google search for “best mindfulness blogs,” so congratulations on that. I am intrigued by this idea of Morning Pages. To be honest, I’m also hesitant to give up part of my morning writing time, which I currently use for blogging. It’s the only quiet time I have entirely to myself. I sometimes write during the day or later in the evening, but it’s never as productive as the morning. Decisions…decisions… Have a lovely weekend!
I used to write everything down when I was in high school. But then I fell off the wagon within these 2 years. Most likely, what I have written is about politic since I study international relations. Now I have to be back on my old habit because I feel lost for these months. no encouragement from outsiders as well as having a self care.
thank you for this,
why not write the dreams though?
I think because it’s almost like writing a story and not your thoughts and emotions. Not totally sure though!
Back in my grade 12 Writer’s Craft class, we tried morning pages and I remember how liberating it felt after getting out all these thoughts that were stuck in my head. It’s been years since I’ve done it but you’ve inspired me to get back into it! I loved this post and how you went into the background of morning pages as well!
So glad this inspired you to get back into it! I kind of wish my writing classes in school would have talked about it haha
i have so much time due to coronavirus, will start it from tomorrow :)
I’ve been feeling lazy lately so I started writing morning pages before I start my day. It definitely boosts my productivity because I had all the things that I want to do run through my mind once and write it down. I have a small notebook writing down my daily to-do-list and my feelings. Would definitely continue with this habit ?
I’ve been looking for something like this to clear my head; I always seem to be talking to myself anyway, having little fights in my head and what if scenarios that will never happen. I think this is so clever and I’m hoping it works as well as everyone says.
I really enjoy it! Even if you can’t do three pages, one page is a good way to clear your head.
Wonderful idea! I’ve never heard of this phrase “morning pages” but it sounds like a great idea especially for artists and thinkers. I do something similar but I record myself on my phone and it pretty much stream of consciousness style too. I ask myself questions and respond and I get a lot of insight about myself and my patterns of thought and habit. Lovely post! New subscriber!
I love that idea, Yetunde! Happy you found me :)