There’s something I do as soon as I roll out of bed every morning. I brew a cup of herbal tea and force my groggy self to sit down and write around 800 words in a journal. It’s not a writing exercise, nor anything noble like a draft for a novel. It’s what the author of The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron calls morning pages.
I did this for the first time around 20 years ago as a teenager overwhelmed by what life was throwing at me. One day I walked into a library and slid my hands across the spines of books tucked away on the higher shelves. My hand settled on a heavy book which I pulled out – The Artist’s Way. I took it home out of curiosity. But after two weeks I knew that it was fate that drew me to it. This was the first book I used for self-help. The one tool that made a lot of difference to me was morning pages.
Morning pages is the process of writing down the first thoughts that come to your mind as soon as you wake up. It’s purging on the page. The same way your body calls for a bowel movement in the morning, your mind too wants to let go of thoughts.
I’ve been writing morning pages for a very long time. I notice a difference in the quality of my life when I stop doing it. And I do stop every now and then. Sometimes for years at a time. The act of doing morning pages forces you to confront the terrifying thoughts in your mind. And that’s why I felt compelled to leave it too.
This January though, I promised my Instagram followers that I’d do the Complete Artist’s Way and keep them updated too. This put just the right amount of pressure on me. There’s honestly no better way to get your act together. And so I did.
True, I didn’t do my pages every day of the week. Some weeks saw me do this exercise only for a few days. I had work. And travel. And fevers. But I persisted. And it eventually became a habit.
The first thing I learned was to not be afraid of my thoughts. Earlier, I used to stop this exercise the moment it pushed up some uncomfortable truth from my subconscious. But this time, I stayed on the page. Through the tears and the swearing(written) and unhappy revelations. I stuck with it until my mind had its tantrum. And the process rewarded me. I made contact with that quiet inner voice, which is not that quiet really. I’d write down a situation I was having and this wise part of my psyche would offer the solution. It was like my personal advisory board. My dependence on outsiders decreased over the weeks. I realized the root causes of my unconscious behaviors. And even better, I realized there was a way to improve every aspect of my life.
Other areas of my life were affected too. I got over people who’d been taking up too much real estate in my heart and mind for years. I decluttered my home and gave away things. Things I thought I’d keep forever. I gave away books. I developed a sense of purpose that was lacking in my life for the past few years. I changed.
The way forward looks good now. It’s not all sad boring adult stuff. Instead, it’s filled with adventures and laughs and loads of friends. And it all started with morning pages.
Here’s how you do the morning pages:
Get yourself a big notebook. Write down three pages of free flow writing as soon as you get up in the morning. Don’t think it through. Don’t read it after it’s done. Don’t edit it. This is mental purging. It’s not going to be pretty. But you’ll feel so much lighter after it’s done.
Should you do it on the laptop?
I’ve tried doing it on my laptop. And it works. Up to a point. But there’s something satisfying about writing it down on paper. Plus, you need a place for all the doodles and scratches that’ll erupt too. Therefore I prefer doing it in my journal. However, the most important thing is to do it. Therefore, do it on your laptop when you’re traveling. Anything is better than not doing it at all.
You don’t need to save your pages. You can save them for a few months and then shred them. If you’re curious, you can review them once before shredding just to see how much you have changed in a few months. It’s always fun to see that.
I hope this post of mine encourages you to give it a try. I hope you stick with it until you see the changes that it’s guaranteed to bring your way. It’s going to be an awesome ride!
Image Credits: Lonely Planet