I’ve recently started doing a well-known creative exercise from Julia Cameron’s fantastic book ‘The Artist’s Way’. It’s called morning pages, and it’s simply the act of writing down your thoughts and feelings in a ‘stream of consciousness’ style when you first wake up in the morning, until you fill three A4 pages. I started it because it was recommended to me, and because I wanted to bring about change in my life that was manageable and would take me where I want to go. It hasn’t made me a millionaire yet in the three weeks or so I’ve been doing it, but there is no doubt whatsoever that it helps me keep calm and focus on the things I want to achieve in my life, which I was struggling with before doing this. Things have also come up that I wouldn’t even have thought were ‘on my mind’ previously too, and doing the exercise for around an hour or 90 minutes each morning allows me to clear out all the clutter I don’t need to carry with me through the day, whether I was aware of it or not. This is where I really think this exercise helps me with the fact that I often get the feeling of just being ‘overwhelmed’, and as far as I know plenty of others out there experience it too – with our 24/7 online and on call lives, and advertisers bombarding us literally thousands of times each day from every possible outlet.
I would often be upset and not really know why. Or tell myself I was over something that might have happened to me a long time ago when really I wasn’t even close. Writing about all these things is a way to release the thoughts from your internal world, and process them in a healthy and constructive way, or just give yourself the space to properly acknowledge and deal with what’s going on in your life – especially if everyone else seems to have ‘moved on’ or you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone. The difference with morning pages is that you are doing this journaling in a specific ‘not yet awake but no longer asleep’ state – and your subconscious mind is very powerful during this time. It’s also something you just have to experience to understand. So, this seems to be a good time to talk about how it works so you can try it and get the most out of it.
How morning pages works
Julia is quite clear that you’re allowed to write ANYTHING you want. Say anything you’re thinking about. Be as angry, sad, confused or ‘bad’ as you want in your morning pages. The point is to get it all out and move past it, and prevent it from holding you back from living the life you’re meant to live and creating what it is you’re meant to create.
Wake up earlier if you have to, and do this before any thing else that’s in your normal morning routine – exercise, breakfast, meditation or whatever else. The idea is to tap into your subconscious and your semi-awake brain before you do too much during the day. Some days I check my phone when I first wake up, but I am trying to stop myself doing this. Otherwise I just make a cup of lemon juice and warm water, or tea, and get started. You can write ‘I feel really tired this morning’ or ‘wow my dream was crazy’ or ‘no way - I can’t believe she said that to me!’ it’s whatever comes up naturally. No censorship, no suppression and no editing your thoughts. You have total freedom and control, and believe me you’re sure to end up surprising yourself at least a little. You might end up realizing you are way happier than you knew, or angrier, or bothered by something that you shouldn’t be affected by. Anything and everything is valid and can just be written out, looked at once and let go before you get on with your life.
Before you give this a try, just two quick pieces of advice:
1) You need to do this exercise with an old-fashioned pen and paper, as the effect won’t be the same if you try and type into your laptop or electronic device. The pace of handwriting is about right for processing your thoughts too, and it’s something I’ve really been enjoying, actually writing something down on paper every day. I even notice differences in my handwriting, which I might get analysed one day!
2) Don’t re-read too much (if at all) and every so often throw away or burn your old morning pages. These are not designed to be your masterpiece, just to help you get in the right state to create one, and they are definitely for your eyes only – so don’t share, show anyone, or let anyone look.
I’m really noticing my mood is better, sometimes I remember things I need to do that day more easily if I’ve written about them, and a lot just makes more sense when I’ve done this exercise – I try to do it at least 6 days per week. It definitely makes sure I focus my energy on the business I want to create, and my friends and family, everything that matters to me in this world.
Good luck if you try it – and happy writing (and creating)!