I have been practising writing morning pages for a year now.
I was sceptical to start at first as I thought it was a waste of time. But sure enough, it has now become a part of my morning ritual every day.
So what are morning pages and how can free writing help you become a better writer?
What Are Morning Pages?
Julia Cameron advocates writing three pages of longhand text every morning.
The reason for this, especially for creatives, is because our minds are blocked with thoughts from our subconscious.
And if these thoughts are no cleared out then we feel blocked or our creativity is stifled. Creativity needs 100% freedom to express itself. And it is the sub-conscious that prevents this expression.
The process of free-writing is simple. Just write whatever streams out of your mind. For example here is a sample entry of my morning pages from 2 days ago:
‘I woke up feeling a little tired today. I bumped into P yesterday so randomly. I hadn’t seen P in almost 2 years and it brought back all sorts of memories. Just remembered I need to book my eye test. Also need to sort that pile of paperwork on my desk. Need to eat breakfast, I wonder what I should have today. Woke up late again. Why am I sleeping so much these days? Feel so tired.’’
Can you see that my words jump around everywhere and none of it really makes any sense?
The words are reflecting the thoughts jumping around in my head. And they will continue to jump around in your head until you give them a place to settle down. And the only way you can settle down these thoughts is to give them attention and acknowledge them by writing them out of you.
That is all they need. And the act of allowing these thoughts move from your head onto the physical page helps calm down your mind because you have acknowledged them.
Why Do Free-writing?
Thoughts consume a lot of mental energy. And this mental energy should be used for your creativity and writing. So the way you can conserve your energy for the tasks that matter is by letting the other thoughts go.
To let go of the noise in your head, you first have to acknowledge their existence. This is how mediation works. You are not trying to suppress anything.
Once you acknowledge certain thoughts are in your mind, then you can let them go. And they won’t go back into your sub-conscious either. You are literally clearing out your mind of all the noise.
A tool for refelction and learning: Don’t re-read your journal until at least 2- 3 months have passed by. You are clearing out the junk from your head and you do not want to tip the rubbish back into your head!
By re-reading, you will re-absorb the clutter. Instead, let the dust settle on the words. Chances are you probably won’t recognise the person who wrote those words all those months agao. I know this I how I feel. When I am ready to look back at my morning pages, I can see with a clearer head, any themes that come up again and again. Reflecting in this way makes me more aware of my behaviour and emotions.
Letting go. You will feel more at ease and lighter once the words are on the page. I now feel the need to write less every morning because I have less cluttered thoughts swimming around in my head.
So here are a few tips to help you get started:
How do I start?
- Write continuously for 3 pages or 20 minutes, whichever comes first. Once your pen starts moving, just keep writing. You can write about how you feel, what happened yesterday, fears, worries. Even if you get stuck, just write ‘I’m stuck’ until the words start to flow again.
- You just need a pen and notebook. Journal or you can also type out your pages on the computer. (I use a journal). Writing by hand allows you to slow your thoughts down as well so give this a go if you can.
- And remember, there is no wrong or right way to do free-writing. Although Cameron advocates free-writing first thing in the morning, I usually do this practice 45 mins after waking, after my meditation session.
The Benefits Of Morning Pages
Your thoughts are full of energy which can drain you if not managed. Negative thoughts especially are draining. So the best way to discharge them is to write them out of you. In this way, you are literally releasing this charged energy.
Once your mind is clutter free, the creative gems can show up. Your words will flow once the rubbish is out of your head.
Sometimes I find that when I start a writing session, I need to warm up by just writing whatever comes to my head. It’s a sort of mini ‘morning pages’. This clears any blocks and allows me to write.
The biggest cause of writer’s block is not because you don’t have anything to say, rather that what you want to say is blocked.
You need to write-through the rubbish to get through the other side.
Free writing allows you to get lost and be found at the same time. This is because they are both two sides of the same coin when it comes to self discovery.
Does free-writing help you be more creative? Please share below.