Is Your Life in a Rut? This Simple Morning Activity Will Change Everything

Inspiring Stories

If you’ve ever experienced a creative rut, been stuck with writer’s block, or simply believed you aren’t a creative person, Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way,” will change the way you think about the creative process forever.

This wildly popular book, which Cameron self-published in 1992 after battling her way out of alcoholism, has transformed the way that much of the general public thinks about creativity. 

The book went on to be named one of The Top 100 Self Help Books of All Time.  

The message? That every single one of us is creative, and that the creative impulse is divinely inspired.

In the book, Cameron’s twelve-week course promises to guide the inner artist out of obscurity, repression, and silence with practices and exercises designed to unblock the creative flow.

The foundation of the entire course is a simple but profound exercise known as morning pages.

What Are Morning Pages?

(Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash)

Morning pages involve the deceptively simple practice of long-hand, stream of consciousness writing each day, first thing in the morning. In a sense, it’s like a meditation session done through writing. 

The idea is to start when the mind is fresh and undistracted and simply allow the mental contents to pour out on the page. 

According to Cameron’s website, “Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.”

In “The Artist’s Way,” Cameron says that morning pages are “the primary tool of creative recovery.”

The idea is to purge the mind of all its contents, especially those contents that come from what Cameron calls “The Censor.”

The Censor is the enemy of the creative life, always telling the artist that they’re wrong, stupid, a waste of time, too sensitive, or not enough. 

Morning pages are a way to hear and let go of the voice of The Censor so it doesn’t impede or interrupt the creative flow. 

Some even report that morning pages helped them find inspiration, start creative ventures, or find their purpose

Morning Pages vs. Journaling

empty journal with pencil
(Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash)

Morning pages are slightly different from journaling in several ways, including:

  • They’re entirely stream-of-consciousness.
  • Correcting, revising, and re-reading is off-limits.
  • They must result in three full pages of long-form writing.
  • They should not be shared with anyone.
  • Aside from the above criteria, there’s no wrong way to do them.

For instance, journaling often involves a coherent narrative that talks about your day, how you’re feeling, or your thoughts on a particular subject. It’s also usually motivated by the desire to write, while the length of any given entry is usually dictated by how much or how little you want to say.

On the other hand, morning pages won’t necessarily have any narrative at all. They likely won’t have a beginning, middle, or end. They’re simply your stream of consciousness, however disjointed it may be. 

Morning pages also may not be revised or corrected. If you mess up, change your mind, or spell something wrong, oh well. Simply move on.

Finally, morning pages must be three full pages of long-form writing. 

How to Do Morning Pages

pen on paper writing in cursive
(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

The most important rule about morning pages is not to overthink it

“Just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow,” says Cameron’s website. 

In her book, Cameron lays out the rules for morning pages explicitly:

  1. Do morning pages first thing in the morning, before any chores, work, or interactions.
  2. Morning pages are non negotiable.
  3. Morning pages are for everyone—sculptors, painters, writers, non-writers, moms, lawyers, and retail workers included.
  4. Do anything until you have filled three pages.
  5. There is no wrong way to do morning pages. Just do them. 
  6. No one is allowed to read your morning pages (and it’s best if you don’t either—at least for the first eight weeks of practicing). 

Cameron emphasizes that you really can’t do them wrong. They aren’t meant to be art or even writing. Writing is simply the method, not the product. 

“Although occasionally colorful, morning pages are often negative, frequently fragmented, often self-pitying, repetitive, stilted, or babyish, angry or bland—even silly-sounding,” writes Cameron.

The point is not to judge what you put down in your morning pages, but to let it be. In doing so, you’ll free your mental and emotional space for something new. 

“All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity,” says Cameron. 

Morning Pages Examples

Tim Ferris posing outdoors
(Tim’s IG)

Though you’re technically not supposed to share your morning pages with others, there are examples out there.

Cameron’s morning pages

In her book, Cameron provides a brief example of morning pages in which she asks a question of  her inner child, “Little Julie” or LJ, and then lets the answer come to her through the pages.

LJ: What should I tell them about this inner wisdom?

Answer: You should tell them everyone has a direct dial to God. No one needs to go through an operator. Tell them to try this technique with a problem of their own. They will.

Tim Feriss’ morning pages

Tim Ferris also shares his morning pages examples on his website. The entry reads as follows:

SUNDAY, DEC. 28, NEW YORK

Woke up at 7:30am, before everyone else. Feels great.

It’s a Sunday, so I feel I can take it slow, which is probably the reason it feels great.

Why should Monday or Tuesday be any different? There are still people waiting regardless. Let them wait.

It’s funny how we work and aim and strive to get to a point where people wait for us, not the other way around. Cue Get Shorty!

And yet, when we arrive at this vaunted point, the masses of people (often rightly) incessantly knocking on the door, one after another, causes far more stress than when you were a mere peon (sp)! [I was unsure of spelling]

Is it because of the 100x more inbound, which decreases a feeling of self-directed free will? A feeling that you’re constantly choosing from someone else’s buffet instead of cooking your own food?

Or is it because you feel you must be defensive and protect what you have: time, money, relationships, space, etc.?

For someone who’s “won” through a lifetime of offense, of attacking, playing the defensive game conflicts with the core of who they are.

[END]

Other examples of morning pages

Want to see more? There are lots of images of morning pages shared by people who practice on Google

Morning pages on reddit

If you want more advice, reflection, or feedback on morning pages, you may want to check out reddit.

There are several subreddits devoted specifically to the practice. 

For instance, r/getdisciplined has a thread about morning pages, along with r/writing

r/Journaling, and even a dedicated r/artistsWay subreddit. 

Morning Pages App

pencil paper and phone
(Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash)

Although morning pages were originally designed to be done by hand, there is a morning pages app. 

My Morning Pages is a simple, straightforward app that allows you to free-write your morning pages on a simple word processing interface that automatically syncs to a calendar. 

This way, you can easily track your morning pages and see how many days in a row you’ve completed them. 

While the basic app is free, the pro version uses AI technology to provide insights on past morning pages, like the emotions you may be experiencing based on your word usage.

Other popular free-writing apps include 750 Words and Day One App.

What to Do When You Hate Morning Pages

woman is stressed staring at computer
(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

Have you tried morning pages but found they aren’t for you? According to Cameron, you should just keep trying. 

Especially at first, morning pages may be a big turn off. 

They may give you a sense of impatience and the desire to get on with your day. Or maybe they start to drag and your hand starts to ache before you get anywhere near that final page. 

Know you’re not alone. This reddit thread offers examples of how different users overcome their morning pages ruts. 

What to Do With Old Morning Pages

paper airplane being thrown outdoors
(Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash)

According to Cameron, just stick them in a folder. Of course there are lots of other creative uses for them, like:

  • use them as kindling
  • paper mache with them
  • use them as wrapping paper
  • make paper airplanes out of them
  • cut or tear them up to make silly nonsense phrases

Some people may also like to store their morning pages for reflection or even to use as material for future creative projects.

The possibilities are pretty limitless.

It must be stated that while morning pages may be therapeutic, even life-changing, they aren’t a form of therapy. 

If you suspect you may have a mental health condition like anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or others, it’s important to get the support you need by speaking with a licensed professional. 

A Simple Habit for Profound Change

(Getty)

People from just about every walk of life have reported that morning pages have had a life-changing impact on them. 

Whether you’re a writer stuck in a rut, an aspiring artist seeking inspiration, or you simply want to become less critical of yourself, morning pages are a simple habit that can create major shifts in your inner world. 

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