Practice: Morning Pages

Morning Pages is a daily practice described by Julia Cameron in her widely-read book, The Artist’s Way (MacMillan 2004, first published 1993), a 12-week programme for people looking to connect with their creative selves.

The instruction is simple. Every morning, first thing, write three, stream-of-consciouness pages longhand. Do not review them as you go. Do not read them again. Do not use them as notes, do not refer back to them for ideas. Just write them and get on with your day. 

Some people do their pages in bed, others with their morning cuppa. The idea is to unload everything you wake up with – all the fragments and ideas and anxieties floating around your head – onto three sides of paper, and then carry on with a clear, settled mind.

It is a bit like journaling, but not quite the same, because the purpose is not to keep a record. It is simply to get things out and down, like sweeping the floor of your mind. Through the process, insights are uncovered, ideas emerge, concerns are addressed. It feels like nothing is happening, and then something does.

One of the participants in our Summer 2020 WriteClub Programme introduced this technique to the rest of her group coaching group. Several weeks later, all of the other participants were all doing it too. Intruiged, Laura gave it a go as well.

At first, it worked brilliantly. She realised things lurking just below the surface, important things. But Laura has small children, and mornings usually find them either in bed with her or waiting with ears peeled for the slightest indication of maternal consciousness. She could not keep up writing first thing.

But then Laura tweaked Cameron’s instructions. Instead of writing as soon as she gets up, Laura does her morning pages as soon as she gets home from the school run, and she is finding that they provide a brilliant transition from family life to working day.

It is the time of year for new habits. Academic terms are starting. Children are returning to school (can we get a halleluiah?). If you are looking for a daily practice to clear out and settle your mind, maybe Morning Pages could work for you too.

NEXT: The Inner Game