So I imagine that if you made it to this page you know what morning pages are, or at least you’ve heard of them and you’re trying to decide if they’re worth your time. (Spoiler: they are.) But on the off chance you got here just because you think I’m really cool and you read everything I post (aw, thanks), I’ll break everything down for you.
We’re gonna go over what the heck The Artist’s Way is, what morning pages are, what they are not, and why you should totally get into it all. Peep the table of contents if you wanna skip to the most relevant part for you & let’s get started!
- What’s The Artist’s Way?
- Why would I do it?
- What are morning pages?
- 5 Reasons to Get in the Habit of Writing Morning Pages
- 1. They really will help you unlock different parts of yourself
- 2. They calm your mind & ease anxiety before your day
- 3. They help you be a better writer
- 4. You’ll get “un-stuck”
- 5. You’ll trust yourself more
Hold on – what is The Artists Way?
Ok, please bear with me. The title definitely makes it sound weird. Sort of culty. I get it.
The Artist’s Way is an absolutely transformative book by the poet, playwright, and filmmaker Julia Cameron. It’s kind of like a self-help book, but for your creativity. And I believe everyone should try it.
Please keep reading. I swear I’m not a weirdo! I have a feeling you’ll be interested as well.
Maybe one day I’ll go through the details of the program’s ins and outs here on the blog, but what you need to know for the purpose of this article is that there are three main components to The Artist’s Way:
- Each week you read a chapter of the book that helps you rediscover or heal a part of yourself you’ve previously neglected. The reading is accompanied by tasks that you’re expected to do each week. This is you working with your inner artist. (If you do this in a group you should meet with your group at the end of each week to reflect and discuss).
- Every week you have to take yourself on an artist date. Two hours of time that you dedicate to doing something with yourself, and only yourself!!! No one else is invited. Take yourself on a date – get creative.
- Morning pages.
(If you’re already thinking this is something you want to get into, check out The Artist’s Way book, or listen to it as an audio book. I recommend using two completely empty notebooks for The Artists Way as well: one purely for your morning pages, and one for all of your weekly tasks. If you don’t have two already sitting around, I love these ones).
Why would I do it?
I worked through The Artist’s Way during lockdown, when a writer I follow on Instagram posted that she was going to do the program herself, and she wanted to form an accountability group with her followers so we could all do it together.
This was right in the height of quarantine, I’d recently been furloughed from my job, and I figured it would be good for me to have at least one structured activity to keep me from lounging away the next three months uninterrupted.
If you have time on your hands and you’re looking to do some major self-care, but know you need structure, then The Artist’s Way is probably for you.
To be honest, I’ve also always been afraid to really claim the title of “creative” for myself. I’m what the book would call a “shadow artist” in that I’ve always been surrounded by “real” artists and creative spaces, but have never allowed myself to actually feel a part of that world.
I was, therefore, understandably nervous as hell to get involved. But lo and behold it was one of the most transformative things I’ve ever done.
If you want to be creative and can feel yourself holding back… this book is very likely to break through to you too!
What are morning pages?
I’m oh so glad you asked! Morning pages are three, hand-written pages of uninterrupted consciousness to be written each morning when you wake up. This sounds simple but it’s actually really hard to get into the swing of things with them.
You don’t need much to do morning pages, but it’s pretty important that you designate a separate notebook for them. I was using an A4 sized notebook at first and found it to be way too much. I now use an A5 sized notebook and I find that it’s actually potentially too small. But to each their own!
Morning pages are NOT…
…a journal you write in the morning. No prompts, no waxing poetic and trying to sound important for the people who might read it in 50 years when you’re famous (ok, surely I’m not the only one who does this…).
Morning pages are a practice in their own right. If you’re an avid journal-er this won’t replace that, it will add to it.
Anyway, let’s get into why I recommend them so highly:
5 Reasons to Get in the Habit of Writing Morning Pages
1. They really will help you unlock different parts of yourself
Julia Cameron’s book is definitely… out there. And a lot of the claims feel borderline outlandish when you start. As I said, I was skeptical from the get go, but in the end I still saw results.
This isn’t surprising according to the ethos of the book, which suggests that essentially, you don’t have to be a believer – you just have to commit yourself to the program fully, and you’ll see changes whether you want them or not!
It took some time, there’s no doubt about that, and I really felt like I was dragging my feet for the first few weeks, but then suddenly I hit this burst where I was soaring through the pages. Every morning I felt like I was having new revelations – I mean honestly the morning pages are where I discovered that I wanted to commit to this blog!
I even one morning found myself, completely unprompted, writing out that I wanted to write novels. That’s not something I’ve ever thought about in a serious way, but several days later I thought why not, in the spirit of the program I’m going to write a first chapter to a novel, as a throwaway. I was completely floored to discover that I loved it. I love writing fiction, which is something I’ve literally never done before. The pages got me there.
2. They calm your mind & ease anxiety before your day
Especially on days where I have a lot going on it can be really easy for me to wake up and immediately get into a headspace of stress. But now, waking up and seeing my morning pages notebook on the bedside table next to me is an instant signal that I have to pause.
I think of them almost as a form of meditation, because you’re essentially making a practice out of taking time to be with your mind. The nice thing about the pages though, perhaps in contrast to journaling, is that you don’t come to them with any agenda. Whatever you need in the moment is what you bring to the page, and thus it will always help clear your head.
Once you start doing them and seeing how untangled your brain feels every morning, you’ll definitely notice the difference on days you skip. If you struggle with anxiety even a little bit, this can be a really life-changing habit for you.
3. They help you be a better writer
A big part of The Artist’s Way is trying to break down your inner censor, to allow your inner artist to come through. Part of the practice of writing morning pages is to build a habit of forcing your way through the censor’s voice.
For example, if when you normally write or journal, you might find yourself stopping to figure out how to best phrase something, or not writing something down because it seems stupid, or crossing it out because you want to write it more eloquently. In morning pages, none of that is allowed. The entire point is to just WRITE. Three pages. Stream of consciousness. No wrong answers.
The morning pages are treated as sacred, no one else is allowed to read them, and crucially you yourself are not allowed to read them either, at least not until there’s been ample time between writing and reading (I’m talking months here). As you do this over and over again, each morning you’ll build the reflex of ignoring your censor. This can help you in both your creative life and your personal life.
4. You’ll get “un-stuck”
Because you’re meant to do these pages daily, chances are you’ll be repeating yourself a decent amount. This ends up working in a similar way to something like, say, affirmations.
Basically because you write things down over and over again, you’ll eventually be inclined to do them, or at least be so bored of hearing yourself think about it that you’ll make a move.
This isn’t limited to creative endeavors or life-altering decisions. The pages will help you finally ask for that raise, tell your boyfriend he’s bothering you, bring up an issue with a friend, or even just move your dining table into the corner like you’ve wanted to for months but never got around to.
I don’t want these to be confused with actual affirmations, though. Those are useful in their own right, and should be used as such. The pages will get you un-stuck because they’ll reveal things you may not have even realized were bothering you so much. Things that you might only discover after mentioning them nine days in a row during your morning pages.
5. You’ll trust yourself more
Seriously. Speaking as someone who is indecisive as hellllll (my Mercury is in Libra, ok? Don’t @ me…) the morning pages offered a much needed sounding board. But more so than that, over time I would naturally begin to write out my opinions on what I should or shouldn’t do about a situation, and as I reinforced that decision each day that I wrote about it, it became harder to continue to waffle over how to make a choice on that issue.
As you get to know yourself better through the pages and find yourself getting un-stuck in various areas of your life, you’ll find that you naturally are beginning to trust your judgement more and more. I mean how could you not – you’ll be thinking about it every morning for three hand-written pages!
Go forth and do your pages!
I hope this has convinced you to start writing morning pages. I promise you that there are no downsides, except maybe rearranging your morning schedule…
If you’re getting started with morning pages let me know in the comments! I can’t wait to see how you all unlock your inner artists.