We all go through periods where we feel like we might be stuck in a rut. To feel like you’re just going through the motions, barely treading water, or simply jogging in place. Sometimes reading inspiring books to refresh your perspective or doing screen-free activities is all you need. But if you’re doing the same old things, and it doesn’t seem like you are getting anywhere — things that used to excite you start to feel less attractive. Instead of moving forward, you’re remaining stagnant, and these feelings can be frustrating. Author Julia Cameron’s directive is simple: Write three pages, longhand, without stopping every morning. If you don’t have anything to say, just put down “I don’t have anything to write.” This is my most sustainable ritual — Morning Pages.
WHAT ARE MORNING PAGES?
Morning Pages originated from author Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, and it was initially designed to help artists break through their creative blocks and get back to creating. The ritual requires you to put pen to paper every morning and write three full pages of stream-of-conscious thoughts — nothing edited or held back. That’s it. You write three pages about anything, whatever pops in your head.
BUT I’M NOT AN ARTIST!
The power of the Morning Pages is that it doesn’t stop at creative pursuits. Think of it as journaling rebranded. This particular journaling technique is valuable for every aspect of life — friendships, relationships, marriage, parenting, daily stressors, work-life, etc. So anyone can start writing Morning Pages to inject clarity, focus, and direction into their lives. So don’t feel locked out by the narrow constraints of what society defines as an “artist.”
WHAT DO YOU WRITE?
There might be days that you don’t feel like writing. Write anyway. You might start writing and feel like you can’t fill out three pages, that it’s too hard — but it doesn’t matter what you write. You could write down what dreams you had last night, your to-do list, grocery list, things you are currently worried about, what you plan to cook, the chores you don’t want to do, affirmations, short term goals, even how much writing these pages might be frustrating you.
HOW ARE MORNING PAGES HELPFUL?
First things first, Morning Pages isn’t a cure-all, and it won’t solve all of your problems. But if you put in the effort, do your pages and put your open and honest thoughts down — you will find yourself unpacking your deepest thoughts, and in time, you will be able to focus on what you want.
Rules for Morning Pages.
1. Don’t let yourself get distracted
This time is for you and your three pages — nothing else. So don’t compromise your you-time for someone else’s needs. Even if three pages might seem daunting one particular day, don’t pick up your phone. Stay focused, even if your brain is only letting you stream-of-conscious your to-do list.
2. Don’t share or read your morning pages
Don’t let ANYONE touch your journal, not even take a peek. You shouldn’t even read it yourself – not for at least a few months, anyway. The reason for this is to help you be truly honest with yourself and what you write. If you or someone else is reading your Morning Pages, you will wind up consciously or unconsciously self-editing your thoughts. If you are afraid that someone will read your pages, shred your pages after every writing session.
If you want to explore your past thoughts, put as much time between your writing and reading your pages. Wait a few months or even a year, so you don’t connect any shame or assign any judgment to yourself.
3. Do it every day
Writing three pages on some mornings may inevitably seem like a tall order. If you slept in, do your pages in the evening. Consistency is key, but don’t punish yourself, be kind.
What do I need to get started?
1. A writing utensil — pen or pencil.
2. A notebook, journal, or pad of paper.
3. Time to complete three full pages (preferably first thing in the morning or right before bedtime).
3 Tips to help you successfully do your Morning Pages
1. Make time and wake up earlier
You will need to carve out some time to write your three pages, which means waking up earlier. It takes me about thirty minutes to complete my pages every morning. If you’re not able to write in the morning, try writing at night before bed. Either way, make time to write your pages daily.
2. Write Morning Pages before you check your phone
Don’t bombard yourself with news and updates from the outside world first thing in the morning — it will distract you, clog your brain up and take away your focus. If you do your Morning Pages first, you will find that you are a lot more clearer and level headed. You will also be able to process things a lot easier, allowing for a free flow of stream-of-conscious thoughts.
3. Make it a comforting ritual, not just another thing to do
Make it something enjoyable so you will look forward to doing it every day. Make a cup of tea, brew a cup of coffee, light a candle, burn some incense — whatever you decide to do, make it relaxing, comforting, and something that you can ease into with little to no stress.
What ritual has helped you in the past to get out of your rut?
Do you do Morning Pages? What rituals have helped you in the past to get out of your rut?