A morning routine to clear your head

morning journal with coffee
CC BY 2.0 JimileeK

Called 'Morning Pages,' the practice of handwriting three pages every morning has been embraced by many successful individuals.

Have you ever heard of Morning Pages? This early morning ritual was conceived by Julia Cameron, a creativity guru from New Mexico, who first wrote about it in The Artist’s Way, a book published in 1992.

The idea is to commit to writing three pages by hand every day, as soon as you wake up. This exercise, when practiced on a regular basis, is a way to clear your mind of negativity and complaints, as well as the random yet exhausting and annoying thoughts about things that you’ve forgotten to do, should do, etc. It must be done by hand because you're less inclined to correct yourself than if you're typing quickly.

Cameron reassures that there is “no need to be artful. Be whiny, petty, grumpy.” You simply write down what is crossing your consciousness — what’s known as ‘cloud thoughts’ in meditation terms:

“It’s as though you have taken a little dust buster and you go poking it into all the corners of your consciousness and you come up with what you put on the page.”

What does this do?

The idea is that, by actively emptying thoughts onto the page, they will free up the mind for better, more creative, relaxed, and focused thinking throughout the rest of the day. Once these things are confined to a page, Cameron says, “We are more honest with ourselves, more centered, and more spiritually at ease.”

Other successful individuals can attest to the efficacy of Morning Pages. Writer and entrepreneur Chris Winfield, who has followed the practice for 241 days in a row, said it helped in the following ways:

  • I’ve come up with ideas that changed my businesses
  • I’ve worked through issues that were bothering me and seemed overwhelming
  • I’ve been better in tune with my intuition and listening to my heart
  • They have shown me what’s most important in my life and helped me to focus on that
  • They have helped me to leave situations and people that weren’t good for me
  • I’ve been able to unlock a lot of the chains of my mind and open up the dam so that creativity can flow
  • They bring me more serenity and help to quiet my overactive mind each day
  • Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, embraces Morning Pages because they are “spiritual windshield wipers” — the most effective therapy he’s ever found.

    “I don’t journal to ‘be productive.’ I don’t do it to find great ideas, or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me.”

    That leads to one of the key rules of Morning Pages. They are 100 percent confidential. Even you should not reread them, at least not for a very long time.

    “Part of the reason they work so well is because they provide a space for creativity without judgement. Once you’ve learned to turn off your inner critic while writing, you can transfer that talent to other areas of your life too.” (via Quartz)

    I love this idea. As someone who used to journal on a regular basis, but now rarely finds the time and energy to do so (perhaps because I spend the rest of the day writing professionally), I need a good reason to get back into the swing of it. Morning Pages sounds like a good way to do so. Plus, it gives me a good excuse to buy and fill gorgeous notebooks, one of my great weaknesses.

    A morning routine to clear your head
    Called 'Morning Pages,' the practice of handwriting three pages every morning has been embraced by many successful individuals.

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