Morning pages: How writing three pages of A4 each morning can unjumble your brain

Morning pages: How writing three pages of A4 each morning can unjumble your brain

My morning pages have become an ingrained part of my morning. My day is usually better having written my three pages of what is often a pile of incoherent words and bad spelling.

In essence the morning pages are three A4 pages of ‘stream of consciousness’ writing – that is writing whatever is in your head. Don’t worry about typos, grammar or even if it makes any sense. Just write, first thing before the days gets going. I tend to wake up, go to the loo then grab my notebook and write before I start the day.

The concept

The concept of morning pages comes from the work of artist Julia Cameron and forms a key tool in her book ‘The Artist’s Way – a course in discovering and recovering your creative self.’  Whilst I will admit to not completing the whole course set out in the book, the morning pages have been a tool that I have come back to repeatedly. Their aim is to awaken your creativity to enable you to dump all the brain ‘blah’ that is getting in the way before you start your day. I would add that I think these pages are an amazing self help tool that can help you to make sense of who you are and where you are, a therapeutic writing tool.

I first started writing them in 2003 and lasted about eight weeks. I then came back to them again in 2014 and wrote them for about a year. During lockdown in summer 2021 I began again, and I haven’t stopped.

The random thoughts!

It’s a weird feeling, writing all the random stuff that is in your head first thing in the morning. Some excerpts from my own morning pages show some of the random thoughts that have spilled out.

‘…how do people manage to get up in the morning…where is the cat…getting stuck, three pages is a lot…. can you believe I use to collect stamps…? If I spread this last bit of writing out, I will have done three pages…’

‘Why am I doing these pages? Not sure what I will gain from them, will I find out soon…words not flowing today, fuzzy head, very thirsty, just want to sleep.’

Julia herself describes the morning pages as ‘…an apparently pointless process I call the morning pages…’  When I first started writing them back in 2003, the point was hard to see for the first few weeks. Yet at various times of my life, these pages have been restorative, insightful and helped me reflect on some of my bigger decisions and issues.

This time around, I have really felt the benefit. Life has changed for many people over the past two years, and I have found the morning pages have helped me make sense of what that means to me. There have been a few sentences that seem to have come from nowhere that have stopped me in my tracks and helped me make some big decisions. Thoughts that I didn’t know I had, and feelings that I hadn’t recognised or had buried. I know that might sound a bit ‘out there,’ but I do credit these pages with getting to grips with my often jumbled brain.

Re-reading the jumble

Julia recommends not re-reading your pages for at least 8 weeks. For me this was surprisingly simple to do, once written it feels like a job done and I have no desire to read what I wrote the previous day or week.  However today I spent some time re-reading my pages from 18 and 10 years ago. It’s been enlightening, recognising where I was back then and the rambling insights that I now recognise and make sense of.

I still haven’t resolved most of the issues I was writing about, I often (still) sound like a broken record and I certainly haven’t found the meaning of life.  Yet in re-reading I can see the patterns that I am in danger of taking forward for yet another decade. I can see meaning in the pages I’ve written, I can see frustration, joy, sadness, striving and mostly trying to figure out my place and what I want my life to mean to me. I can see the things that I write that form the core of what actually makes me happy – things I can start doing more often right now!

I also want to hug my 40 year old self and say it will be ok, that hitting 50 and beyond has come and gone and it’s still ok. I also recognise that for me trying to find the meaning of life is a pretty pointless exercise, I couldn’t find it at 40 or 50 so perhaps it’s time to stop looking? Something I’m sure will be written about in an incoherent way over the next decade of mornings.

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash