How “Morning Pages” Unlock Your Creativity

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Photo credit: Mike Tinnion

I started doing something called Morning Pages a few weeks ago. They’re supposed to help you unlock your creativity and improve your life overall. Big claims. So let’s talk about what this practice is and how it’s meant to help you be more creative.

What Are Morning Pages?

There’s a book called The Artist’s Way and it’s supposed to help you unlock and heighten your creativity. It’s laid out like a course and has assigned reading and tasks to do, all with the goal of helping you get in touch with yourself and get creating.

One of the things the book says you have to do is Morning Pages, an “apparently pointless process,” say the authors, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan.

They say this because people have shot down the idea…until those same people try this practice and flip to being Morning Pages advocates.

“Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream of consciousness,” they said.

It’s basically like dumping your subconscious onto the page. And there is no wrong way to do Morning Pages. They’re not meant to be art, or even good at all. It’s a no-stress practice.

And they’re not meant to be revisited later or saved like a journal. Rip them out and hide them away if you want. I plan to burn my notebook after it’s filled up.

No one else is allowed to see these pages. Ever. You need to free yourself of any sense of perfection when doing your Morning Pages.

And they are non-negotiable. If you don’t feel like writing, then write about how you don’t feel like writing. Write down your negative thoughts, your nonsensical meanderings, and opinions you don’t share with anyone. These pages are for you and you alone. Dump it all on the pages and leave it behind you.

The Benefits of Morning Pages

Morning Pages are meant to help you get out of your own way, that part of you that edits yourself. The book calls this the Censor.

The more you hear the voice of your Censor, the better you get at ignoring it and paying attention to the real you. If you let the Censor win, you will stay creatively blocked. Morning Pages help you beat the Censor.

“Who wouldn’t be blocked if every time you tiptoed into the open, somebody (your Censor) made fun of you?,” they write.

According to The Artist’s Way, here are the benefits of consistently doing Morning Pages:

  • Get to the other side of your fear, negativity, and bad mood
  • Overcome your Censor
  • Find your center, and therefore your creativity
  • Get to know yourself better
  • Remember your dreams more often and with more vividness
  • Improve your problem solving skills
  • Clear your mind

I’ve been doing Morning Pages for about four weeks now. To be honest, I haven’t been as consistent as I’d like to be. I’m not sure I’ve even done them seven days in a row yet, but most days I do them.

Even still, I’ve noticed I’m hearing more of my own voice in my head instead of ignoring it. I’ve been remembering my dreams. I’m more confident with my choices and knowing what I want. And part of being creative is knowing yourself.

How To Keep Writing Your Morning Pages

According to The Artist’s Way, the full benefits of Morning Pages only happen when you stay consistent and write your three pages every day. And this will require you make Morning Pages a habit. It means it has to become part of your routine.

The problem is, many of us wait around for motivation to hit us. Once that arrives, we say, then we’ll start a new habit. But that’s totally off. What you need is discipline. Discipline is how you form habits. And habits can actually get you somewhere.

Author James Clear has a 5-step process for forming new habits

1. Start with a small task/habit

Three pages of brain-dump writing is actually not that much. Especially because these pages are not meant to be good. No one else will see them. They could be gibberish. Just keep your hand moving and it won’t take that long or be that difficult.

2. Gradually improve that habit

When you first start Morning Pages, it may be hard to do them every day. So improving this habit means doing your best to do them every single day. Set an alarm. Give yourself a reward when you’re down. Offer yourself extra incentive than just the inherent benefits of Morning Pages.

3. As you improve your habit, chunk it into pieces

The book takes you through the artist’s way process week by week, so it may be helpful to do Morning Pages week by week. Keep track of how many days each week you did your Pages. It will give you a small, clear goal to reach.

4. When you miss a day, quickly get back on track

When you miss a day of writing, don’t beat yourself up over it. Shame cycling is real. Just make sure you do Morning Pages the next day.

5. Be patient

Again, I’ve been doing Morning Pages for four weeks and it’s still hard for me to do them every day. Be patient with yourself. Don’t get lazy, but also don’t talk negatively to yourself for missing a morning.