In need of a breath-of-fresh-air AM routine to start both your days and year off right? Us too. In the long, dark winter months, made bleaker by a certain Mr Omicron, it can be difficult to find both the inspiration to make positive changes, or even the get-up and go to continue in your regular routine with minimal daylight hours and the feeling of ‘will I ever be warm again?’ crossing your mind approximately 200 times daily. It’s a tough time. But what if we told you a simple pen, paper and around 30 minutes of your time could change the game? Introducing: Morning Pages.
With over 4 million views on the #morningpages hashtag on TikTok alone, this phenomenon is sweeping the Internet despite first being coined in the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron in 1992. This self-help book was designed to help people with “artistic creative recovery”, teaching techniques and exercises to assist people in gaining self-confidence in harnessing their creative talents and skills. Despite this, the concept of Morning Pages and their benefits are not limited to creative souls, and the positive impacts can be felt far and wide!
So, what are Morning Pages?
In short, the practice involves writing three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness thinking, and as the name suggests is designed to be done first thing in the morning. Julia states “there is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritise and synchronise the day at hand. Do not overthink Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
What are the benefits of Morning Pages?
So why should you carve this time out of your morning when you could be getting approximately 30 minutes more Zzz? Good question. The positives of consistently participating in writing your Morning Pages are endless, from clearing your mind, sparking creativity to silencing your inner critic, this practice is one that can help wipe the slate of the previous day clean, and set you up for a more positive, productive or simply peaceful day. Our minds collect so much information on a daily basis that clearing through the clutter and distractions we don’t need can bring freedom, clarity and inspire a day less occupied by the things that don’t matter.
Creating designated time within your day to prioritise this practice is also a great habit to bring in the new year with, proving that the small chunks of time we may not otherwise give a second thought can be used to put self-care to the top of the list, and begin each day knowing you have actively taken time for YOU.
So much of the unease we feel in our lives comes from conflict, feeling torn between one choice and another or feeling stuck in the middle of what we want to do and what we feel is achievable for us, and Morning Pages can help with those internal debates too. Writing down our inner thoughts and feelings can bring clarity and also help us to realise our problems are maybe not as complex as we think.
This is one of the reasons Morning Pages works best when written by hand instead of typed- one of the only ‘rules’ to this practice. Writing using pen and paper takes longer and this process can help to slow down our thinking and create more ‘lightbulb’ moments and clarity in uncovering how we feel about what’s going on in our lives. “Writing by computer is more emotionally detached practice. It helps keep our Inner Critic alive and well since we are so easily able to go back and fix our mistakes. It yields us speed and distance, but not the depth that we are looking for” says Morning Pages enthusiast Chris Winfield who participated in this AM routine for 241 days straight before sharing his love for the process. Despite this, it’s important to remember that the aim of Morning Pages is not to solve all of our problems, but simply to stop them from continually bouncing around our heads like the image of Timothée Chalamet after watching Little Women again. Morning pages are, as author Julia Cameron puts it, “spiritual windshield wipers.”
And why the morning specifically? Supposedly our egos are less active when we first wake up, meaning it’s important to make the most of this precious time and catch your thoughts before your ego’s defence comes into play. Aren’t our brains funny things? Starting the day off with a habit that doesn’t require a phone, laptop or TV is also the perfect mini detox from technology, and could be a welcome change in 2022 if your first instinct is usually to head straight to your For You Page. Habitually working out the mind as well as the body is one benefit of the humble MP that we can’t rave about enough.
For those that aren’t regulars at journaling, you might still be wondering, “But what do I actually write?”.
It doesn’t matter. For the perfectionists amongst us, this can be a hard pill to swallow, but really the content of your Morning Pages is secondary to the practice itself. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. No thinking, no analysing, no stressing, just write until you hit 3 pages and sit back and breathe a deep sigh of relief and accomplishment. Morning Pages allows you to hit reset, and you’ll likely feel that relief in your body as well as in your mind- think of it as a trip to the spa without the expensive price tag.
Sometimes your pages might make sense upon reflection, and other times it will simply be a stream of consciousness that has no profound meaning, but either way, the purpose of this ritual has been achieved. The idea is not to read these entries back, because unlike a diary or a journal used to record a particularly happy trip to the Italian coast or moving into your first home, Morning Pages is a cleanse that need not be revisited. Whether it means ripping them up, scribbling them out (especially cathartic) or simply leaving them be and turning the next page, much like that one ex who really screwed you over, some things are best left in the past.
And remember, it takes on average 66 days to form a habit, so keep persistent and regular if you hope to reap the rewards of this simple but life-changing practice.
Here’s to the same you, but a little clearer minded this 2022.