The Magic of Morning Pages Journaling
Years ago I read a wonderful book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. A beautiful book which teaches techniques and exercises to assist people in gaining self-confidence to harness their creative talents.
One of the techniques recommended was ‘stream of consciousness writing’. Just dumping onto paper what-ever is in your head at any given time.
Over time I evolved the practice - called ‘Morning Pages’ – and most mornings for the last decade or so I sit in a quiet place with a blank journal and pen, a cup of tea, a favourite candle lit nearby, and I write…
It's become a valuable ritual for me.
"In particular, when things are difficult, I find it so helpful."
So much so that when people ask me how I managed to not get burned out as I started and grew kikki.K for over 20 years, I tell them it's thanks to my ritual of Morning Pages journaling.
I worked so hard but this ritual helped me to never hit the wall or get burned out.
So How Does it Work?
I write whatever comes to mind. Literally just writing in the way that I think. Dumping thoughts on paper as they come... helping me clear my head and heart...
For example, if I think "I have no idea what to write about", then I write exactly those words. Then the words from my next thoughts... and so on.
I don’t edit at all. I don’t overthink. I don’t try to make sense straight away. I don't worry about spelling or grammar... or being neat. I don't pause to think it all thru.
I just keep my hand moving and write - as if no-one will ever read what I've written. Happy. Confused. Angry. Sad. Excited. What-ever comes comes out… the more intense the emotion the better.
I don't worry about being logical or 'right' and I'm not worried if I go 'off topic'.
IT IS SO LIBERATING & THERAPUTIC!
"I know lots of people like to look back over their scribblings over time - and there is benefit in that as you give yourself distance and space to make sense of how you are evolving."
Journaling Morning Pages style allows you to express yourself freely without being judged - and provides you with a record of your experience and feelings that will help you make sense of them and your progress over time if you choose to look back.
I always aim to fill three pages with this long-hand, stream of consciousness writing - and in my experience it's best to do it first thing in the morning.
Because I find that my Morning Pages journaling provokes, clarifies, comforts, cajoles and helps me prioritise the day at hand. Free-ing me up to be creative and productive.
I recommend doing it as soon as you wake up, ideally before you do much else. Just grab a journal that's just for your Morning Pages - and a second journal for notes and 'to do's' - and sit somewhere comfortable. And write.
The reason for having a second journal is because when you write your Morning Pages, it'll also stimulate lots of great ideas and thoughts that you will want to capture and act on later.
Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist's Way says "it's the bedrock tool of a creative recovery" ...but there's no wrong way to do Morning Pages so feel free to explore it for yourself to figure out what works best.
What if it's Hard at First?
When I first started doing it, there were times when I just didn't know what to write... so that's exactly what I wrote:
"Here I am, sitting here and I have no idea what to write... the things I'm thinking are...."
...and then off I would go. Eventually finding my flow & filling the pages.
So when you don’t know what to write, just literally write whatever thoughts are coming to mind for you.
So there is always something to write about!
If I have a big day ahead, I sometimes write how I want the day to unfold. I also sometimes write about a specific event or meeting upcoming. My fears and hopes. My random thoughts. And it all helps me clear and prioritise my subconscious.
I often start with gratitude because I naturally feel so grateful that I am able to start my day this way, to write and reflect. And then I'll often write about a challenge or a problem I’m facing that I'd like to solve, and sometimes I write about that same thing for week’s.
Just writing whatever comes into my head - not editing myself. Simply dumping my thoughts as they come onto the pages. Clearing out the clutter of my mind.
I also often write about what I want to get done, what I want to change in life, about my dreams, goals and hopes for me, my family and the world. However it all spills out.
And it's common for me to write my number one dream at least 5 times ...or an affirmation that I'm currently using - or about a past event I experienced or a future event and how I want it to turn out.
I even sometimes write about how things will be when I've made my top 3 dreams happen. How my life will look. How I'll feel. What will be different. What I can do today to get closer to making my dreams a reality.
"And I'll often write down things I'm unhappy with instead of complaining about them to other people. It helps me clear my head of negative thoughts and is a great use of the Morning Pages (...and much better than dumping on other people!)."
It really is a great way of clearing and organising thoughts - and if something comes up that I want to remember or act on, I'll write that down the everyday journal I keep at my side.
If I'm working on changing a habit - which I do every 30 days with my Habit Club group – I'll often write about what that means, what I need to do to stick to my new habit, what support I need and who I need to become.
In case helpful, I love what Tara Schuster wrote about Morning Pages in her book Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies:
"...the book explained how this practice was a way to get in touch with your core feelings by forcing you, in writing, to become aware of and engaged with the innermost self.
My first thought was Who has the time, every day, to write THREE pages? It seemed like a pretty overwhelming burden. But, again, I was at a point in my life where, on a good day, I was openly sobbing on the subway.
Okay. I would try it, but I would keep the notebook hidden away in my nightstand, under magazines and my television remote control. No one would find it there.
In the beginning, my Morning Pages were unbearably boring. They mostly listed complaints: "Why can't you get up half an hour earlier? If only you woke up at 8:30, then you wouldn't be rushing to do these stupid pages before work!!" Or I listed errands I had to run: "YOU MUST BUY TOILET PAPER INSTEAD OF USING PAPER TOWELS FROM THE KITCHEN!!! YOU DESERVE TOILET PAPER."
As I continued to write, however, sharp fears began to emerge: "You will fail." "You have no good ideas." "If you aren't professionally successful yet, you never will be." It was as if some force within me was moving my pen across the page, exposing worries I hadn't yet been aware of.
"You will never find someone who loves you and you will be alone forever. You don't deserve love." Yikes. I hadn't been writing in my journal for more than a week and I was already confronted with the deep-seated and inescapable dreads of that neglected little girl at my core. The one who grew up in a house where things came to die, the one who was never comforted or taught how to take care of herself.
As I wrote, it felt like I was receiving DMs from my soul. Secret, semi-sneaky messages from my most vulnerable center, nudging me toward the places I needed to heal."
It's a great example of how persisting will help you get the most out of the practice - and how powerful it can be.
If it's Helpful...
In case it's helpful for you, I've shared some themes and journaling prompts you can use to get you started with Morning Pages. You can download them from here for free.
If you'd like to learn more, listen to my podcast episodes #133 - The Magic of Morning Pages Journaling and #135 – Going Deeper to Help With Your Morning Pages Ritual.
As I think back over the last 20 years, in times when I was in circumstances that had me doubting myself or that were highly difficult, journaling in this random way in the mornings helped me process things in an unusual but very helpful way.
Thinking on paper is so valuable. You don’t have to have any answers. You can just dump your thoughts and explore your fears, doubts, anger, frustration, joy, excitement... all emotions and all circumstances. Free-ing your mind in the process.
There is no doubt some science that explains why this works – and if you know of any, please comment below - but my years of personal experience leave me in no doubt it’s a wonderful and valuable process and practice.
You should try it - and please circle back to leave a comment below to let us all know how it goes for you.
An Easy Way To Start...
And if you're curious to learn more, we'll be reading The Artist's Way in August in my virtual book club GROW - and we'll all be doing daily Morning Pages as part of that. So, click here if you want to join us.
When you start something new its so much easier if you have the support and the inspiration of seeing other people doing it too, so please consider joining us if you want to give it a go.
Use A Specific Journal...
I've created a new journal available exclusively here at The Dream Life Store that says Morning Pages on the cover. Available in a range of colours.
It's just a normal simple journal, and you can choose if you want to have it lined, plain, with grid pages or dots. And as always, you can personalise the cover with your name on it or the name of someone you want to gift it to.
Click here to view...
I keep a separate Morning Pages journal to my normal every-day journal - and I only use my Morning Pages journal for my morning pages. I keep it next to my bed so I can do my morning pages as soon as I wake up. I don’t read what I write for Morning Pages which is why I keep a separate journal.
It's one of the best things I have ever done for my work life balance and for keeping sane. So definitely try it – it's absolutely for everyone.
Find other beautiful journals you could use for your own Morning Pages here...
- Write whatever comes to mind. Literally just write the way that you think. Dump thoughts on paper as they come...
- Don’t edit at all. Don’t overthink. Don’t try to make sense straight away. Don't worry about spelling or grammar... or being neat. Don't pause to think it all thru.
- Just keep your hand moving and write - as if no-one will ever read what you've written. Happy. Confused. Angry. Sad. Excited. What-ever comes comes out… the more intense the emotion the better.
- Don't worry about being logical or 'right'.
So good to hear Julia – isn’t journalling so very powerful?! Warmest wishes to you and your family. Love K
Near 6 years ago my husband became quite ill and ended up with a major brain injury, in a coma for a month, many months in hospital rehab and many setbacks and complications for the following two years.
Throughout this entire process, I wrote a journal almost every night.
This detailed what was happening, who visited and stayed with us, who made us food and brought flowers, and most importantly, how I was feeling and how he was coping (as well as our two sons) throughout this trying time.
I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but something inside told me it was the right thing to do, so I just did.
Now, from time to time, I read exerpts to him, which gives him a really good understanding of what happened. I also write a blog on our story and being able to reference these journal entries has been invaluable.
BUT, the very best thing that I have benefited from, was at the time of writing it.
This was my solace at the end of every long tiring and emotionally exhaustive day. It was my time alone from all family from interstate that had temporarily moved in, constant phone calls and texts, and it was a way to reflect, clear my head and give myself some very much needed therapy!
I will be forever grateful that I wrote these entries, and reading your blog is a timely reminder that I really should be doing the same now.
Thank you :)
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