31st May marks an anniversary – a whole year of morning pages!
What are morning pages?
Created (in the form I’m familiar with, at least) by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, morning pages are three A4 pages, or approximately 750 words, of long form, handwritten stream-of-consciousness writing.
It’s not writing for anyone else, and it doesn’t even particularly have to have punctuation or paragraphs – it most closely resembles freewriting. Where freewriting usually has a time limit, morning pages have a space/word count limit. Three A4 pages seems to be the magic number – I’ve found that I write more than three in smaller books or with wider lines, and less than three in notebooks with narrow ruling.
365 days of morning journalling
These are the four notebooks which have brought me through the year, in order from oldest (blue) to newest (silver glitter). I’ve always used writing to work through sticky times in my life, but fell out of the habit after Dad passed away, because I didn’t want to face my sadness written down on a page.
When I started writing morning pages, I had no idea it would become a habit that stuck with me and which carried me through the good and bad of each unfolding day, week and month. Though I’ve always maintained that words have their own magic, I’d never really had time to do anything in the mornings other than wake up, blearily stagger through the shower, throw food at the cats and stumble out of the door, late.
But self employment has given me a new lease of life, because I no longer have to get up hours before my natural waking time five or six days a week. Now, unless I have an event to get to or a client who needs me at daft o clock (and most of my clients don’t), I can wake up without an alarm and potter through my mornings – and the first thing I do each day is make a cuppa and write.
Keeping the habit
You’ll already know that starting something new is easy – forming a new habit is surprisingly hard. But I found morning pages so transformative, it wasn’t hard at all to keep the habit going – through thick and thin, good days and bad days, and even the occasional early start.
I’ve missed them on only a handful of occasions – maybe five or six days in the whole year (and those days have been balanced by evening journalling, which is different but equally helpful).
There’s something about it being the first thing I do each day which helps me to order my thoughts and tackle any awkward things going on – plus I think it sets me up better for the day to start with an empty brain. (or as empty as a creative squirrel brain ever gets…!)
What do you write in morning pages?
Literally whatever comes into your head. If you sit down and you can’t think what to write, write that… I can’t think what to write, I can’t think what to write… and you’ll find that something else comes out of your pen at some point.
Keeping the habit helps, as does remembering that no one but you will ever see these – and you don’t even have to reread them if you don’t want to! (though snippets of mine make for a wonderful record of how I was really feeling during certain periods).
And they’re a wonderful way to check in with your dreams and keep you on track.
Alternatives to morning pages
(and some resources for you)
Side note – cats make great writing companions. Product photography? Not so much…
I mean, there aren’t alternatives to doing the work and writing the words, really – but I can highly recommend 750words.com if you prefer to type. I use it when I’m on the go, and sometimes alongside my main words, and often when I’m away from home as I don’t really want my notebooks to get lost on my travels.
When I first came across the concept, I really struggled with the idea of doing them in the morning – I am a hardened night owl – but actually, when I switched from evening to morning they worked better for me.
You might find that lunchtime is your jam – adapt for what makes them best for you. Try committing to a week, and ask a friend to hold you accountable – then see how you feel and if it’s helped.
Morning pages have definitely changed my life and my business for the better!
Fancy some of your own fabulous flatlays and product shots, but without the helping cats? I’m back in my studio (yay!) so have space for product photography and flatlay bookings – give me a shout and let’s chat about how I can help you.