When teacher, author, actor, playwright, novelist, poet, filmmaker, composer and journalist Julia Cameron proposed the idea of Morning Pages in her 1992 book, The Artist’s Way, many of her readers and admirers dismissed the idea as impractical. But over the years, many others have come in support of the idea, swearing by the boost they have witnessed in their creativity with this practice.
The idea of Morning Pages
According to Cameron, the idea behind Morning Pages is to catch up with your innermost thoughts before your ego catches up with you. That’s why it is very important to do it first thing in the morning, right after you wake up.
You have to take exactly three sheets of paper, preferably US Letter or A4, and start writing on them with a pen or pencil. Don’t stop until those three pages are full of about 750 handwritten words. Of course, we have computers nowadays, and we can type. But Cameron suggests that it is absolutely essential to write the Morning Pages by hand.
Many followers of the practice corroborate that typing is far too impersonal for the Morning Pages ‘ritual’ and doesn’t yield the same results.
There are no rules for what you have to write on these pages, it is entirely up to you to choose the topic. Your Morning Pages need not be a Nobel-prize-worthy piece of art either. It could be about your deepest fears, worries, angry rants about a colleague or a boss, a fight with your spouse or friend, or about your dog - just about anything. But it must be handwritten in longhand, on paper, and a minimum of three letter size pages. You must not plan ahead either, and that’s crucial to the success of the exercise.
How does it help you?
When you put all your thoughts on paper with your own hand, you are actually letting go of many of your anxieties and fears that you have been holding onto, either unconsciously or subconsciously. It is a well-established psychological fact that journals help calming anxiety, channeling insights and creativity to solve problems and dilemmas of real life situations. Along with that, psychologists also believe that mornings are the best time for creative thoughts.
Your brain is completely rested and devoid of inhibitory processes in this moment, and is usually preparing you for a new day by organizing your thoughts before you know it.
Place a premium on privacy
Morning Pages are extremely private. You must destroy them to achieve that privacy. Don’t worry about going back to them for reference, you don’t need to do that. Cameron vehemently suggests that you must not read what you have written. The idea is to shun your biggest critic - yourself - and allow your thoughts a creative space without any judgement. Once you get in the habit, you can transfer it to other spheres of your life too.
There have been many studies about the positive effects of expressive writing. Perhaps these positive effects are a result of a simple act of putting your thoughts on paper when your mind isn’t even ready to process them with all the additional clauses associated with your work and personal lives. Regardless, Morning Pages do seem like a practical implementation of the psychological studies to quite an extent. And with so many recommendations from some of the most creative professionals, it might just worth a try for you as well.