The Artist's Way is an amazing book by Julia Cameron that offers creative people a number of exercises that inspire good creative flow. Today we are taking a look at the simple and powerful exercise of writing morning pages. All you do is get up in the morning and write three pages of the thoughts running through your brain - with the mission to empty your head so that you can be refreshed at the beginning of your day and have a resulting flow of creativity that's so awesome you will cry tears of joy : )
So the main rules of writing these pages is being really free in your thoughts, writing first thing in the morning, writing three pages, and writing every day.
You need to be free and state the things on your mind, releasing negativity as much as possible. Be grouchy, whiney, petulant and down right angry. Get it all out and if you want to - just tear the pages up afterward and be done with it. Some people hang on to the pages so that after a few months they can take a peek at their mindset when they started - you know, see if they are complaining about the same things etcetera.
Another rule to morning pages is that you should try to write them first thing in the morning as a way of preparing your mind for a great and uncluttered day ahead. Doesn't that sound good? If it's hard to get into this habit - then do them whenever you can - just get them done. But to get the full benefit you want to eventually get them done in the morning.
Writing every day is the last rule. The effects of this exercise are cumulative, meaning they build up over time. The first day you do the pages you will benefit a little bit and the 60 day in a row of doing these pages you might be benefitting so much that it feels as though your life has undergone an amazing change.
Here's 3 reasons why this exercise is so good for us creative types:
Break the Cycle
A great side-effect that can come out of writing the morning pages is breaking out of negative loops that are holding you back. I'm talking about those habits that are so hard to break even when you are aware of them. For example, sometimes when I am stuck on a piece I can end up on the computer wasting time instead of facing the challenge. With morning pages if you write this down as something that's bugging you it becomes hard to keep writing it down and not change the pattern. There is just something about commiting those habits to paper that makes you feel more empowered to break the cycle that is holding you back. What types of habits do you observe that seem to regularly hold you back? Consider including them in a morning pages session.
Banish Thoughts That Suck Creativity Dry
At the beginning of my day I make lists - mental lists. While I am showering the list of things I need to do seem to float through the steam preoccupying my mind. These items pop into my mind and block out other things - simple things. I need to resole my shoes, buy groceries, email someone back etcetera. My actions become automatic as this involuntary list populates my thoughts. These things sap my creativity and morning pages offer the opportunity to kiss them goodbye and then have a day where you can be present and powerful rather than brow -beaten by the endless list of things to be done.
Clean Out The Cobwebs
Do you ever feel as though you have too much on your plate but it's hard to put a finger on all the things that are weighing down on you? This feeling can lead to a general background of anxiety - not too condusive to creative work. Julis Cameron describes the morning pages routine as taking a dust buster to all the dark corners of your mind. I think this makes for a lighter and happier place to work from - lifting the veil of general anxiety for better creativity.
Here is a video of Julia Cameron ( author of The Artist's Way ) talking about the morning pages as a creativity booster:
Here's an excerpt from Nicky Hajal's blog:
"Free-flowing morning pages are the perfect form for this type of reflective writing. They keep me actively thinking and deciding each step of the way and allow me to handle the barrage of unexpected events that threaten any endeavor. They have become an absolute core necessity of my creative process. Morning pages are for people that want to accomplish something."- http://nickyhajal.com