Do you ever feel as if you are constantly getting in your own way? Are intrusive thoughts or easy distractibility taking away from your ability to create or reach your goals? If so, you are not alone. Most of us create a lot of internal noise that can block our creativity, and stop us from maximizing our talents. Some examples of this noise are:
- Thoughts of self-doubt
- Painful memories
- Grudges and arguments
- Worries great and small
- Unfinished ideas
- Mental to do lists
- Cerebral Flotsam and Jetsam
Unless you can push past all of these, it’s difficult to accomplish very much beyond simply muddling through your day. One way to clear all of this out of the way is to use a technique called morning pages. By using this simple yet proven method, you will be able to accomplish more, learn about yourself, and make better use of your talents.
Morning Pages Defined
In 1992, author Julia Cameron released the book, ‘The Artist’s Way’. The book contained several exercises designed to help average people harness and use their natural creativity. The exercise that gained the most popularity was ‘morning pages’.
Morning pages is a daily writing exercise. The instructions are simple. Just write in an 8.5 x 11 notebook in longhand until three pages have been filled. This exercise is to be completed first thing in the morning, before doing anything else. Since the book was published, writers, artists, and others have been practicing morning pages.
The Purpose of Morning Pages
The concept here is quite simple. It is difficult to think creatively or complete creative tasks if you are inundated with the kind of intrusive thoughts mentioned above. Anyone who has ever, for example, sat down to write something only to have their mind wander continually has experienced this.
The function of morning pages is to use writing to clear all of those thoughts away. The idea is that if you engage in longhand, the stream of consciousness writing you can get those thoughts out of your mind and onto paper. As a result, when it comes time to focus on what you want to accomplish, all of that ‘stuff’ is less likely to get in the way.
Morning Page Guidelines
There aren’t a lot of rules here. Essentially you should write in longhand. Typing doesn’t have the same impact. This may be because the brain actually reacts differently when you write or draw by hand. You should do as little as possible before starting morning pages. Ideally, it is the first thing you do. Getting a cup of tea beforehand is fine. Checking your emails and making a phone call before getting started is definitely not in the spirit of this. Finally, you shouldn’t stop writing until you have filled three pages.
What if You Have Nothing to Write?
There is absolutely no pressure to produce any written work, through morning pages, that is at all interesting or compelling. The products of your morning pages don’t even need to make sense. If you don’t feel like you have something to write, then write anything. Write a series of made-up words. Write the same sentence over and over again. Write words that rhyme with one another. Write as many words as you can without using the letter ‘E’.
There may be days when you just don’t have much to work past before you can access your creative abilities. On those days, think of morning pages as simply a warm-up exercise. Still, if you stick to morning pages, you will almost certainly find that there are days when you do have something to write. They may be trivial things such as concerns about what to make for dinner, or rehashing old conversations. You might even write about work concerns such as vetting out a new hire or picking the best human translation option for a business merger or expansion. They may also be deeper things such as major goals, fears, or regrets.
Does Morning Pages Have a Purpose for People Who Aren’t Creative Types?
First, everyone is a creative type. There are so many tasks that require you to use creative talents even if they don’t fall under the category of artistic expression. It takes creativity to come up with new solutions to a problem. It takes creativity to teach a concept to someone who is having difficulty understanding it. It takes creativity to write a sales pitch. Any time that you do something without following some predetermined set of steps, you have done something creative.
Unfortunately, if you don’t consider yourself to be creative, doing creative things can be even more challenging. One of the things that can get in your way is your own doubts about your creative abilities. That’s something morning pages can help you get over.
Is Morning Pages Therapy?
Not exactly, but there are days when it may feel that way. If you’ve been trying to accomplish something and your thoughts and doubts keep getting in the way, writing can be cathartic. So can the feeling you get when you are finally able to complete the task you want to complete.
On the other hand, morning pages can reveal deeper emotions such as sadness, frustration, or anger. Simply writing these out may not be sufficient. You may choose to find another means to explore these further.
Getting Motivated to do Morning Pages
Like any other exercise, morning pages won’t help unless you do them consistently. Many find themselves working hard to find the motivation to stick to it. The best approach is to simply drop the idea of motivation altogether.
Instead, work to create a morning pages habit. Think of all of the things that you simply do. You check your email, you walk your dog, and you wash your dishes. There’s no immediate reward for doing these things. You don’t skip out on these things, because you aren’t feeling inspired or motivated. You just do them. Once morning pages are a habit, whether you feel motivated won’t be an issue.
Who knows? You may be a better writer, creator, or problem solver than you ever imagined. Give morning pages a try. This simple exercise may be the key to accessing and using your creative talents.
Author ~ Margaret Reid
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