Morning pages are a simple, but powerful practice that can help you declutter your mind. The act of writing in the morning helps to clear our minds and prepare for the day ahead.
Morning Pages are a practice that can be used to declutter the mind. It is an ode to the morning pages, which are simple writing prompts that help you focus on your thoughts and emotions.
Flannery O’Connor, one of my favorite writers, once remarked, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Another favorite, author Joan Didion, remarked, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”
For the record, I can personally attest to these feelings. I started writing in my first journal when I was in fourth grade, and with the exception of a few years, I’ve been processing (and processing, and processing) my life through writing ever since. As evidence, I have numerous pages of notebooks filled with things I would never have known if I hadn’t taken the time to sit down, pick up a pen, and write them down.
Many individuals have told me that they wish they could journal, but that facing the blank page is too intimidating—and that they don’t have anything to say, they say. Friends, I have some excellent news for you (or bad, if you were just saying that as a way to get out of journaling).
The belief that you have nothing to say is a great place to start while writing morning pages. It’s OK to arrive with nothing but blank paper, a blank head (or so you think! ), and a pen. Morning pages, to be clear, are not the same as journaling, but the practice has mostly replaced my prior diary-style writing and for good cause.
I notice how those concrete and obvious items morphed and unfolded into the idle musings, secret hopes, ineffable fears, and embarrassing anxieties of a preteen girl when I look back at the things I thought were important to record as a middle schooler—often starting with a literal list of the day’s events—and how those concrete and obvious items morphed and unfolded into the idle musings, secret hopes, ineffable fears, and
Morning pages, in my experience, start with the premise that there’s more to the day than the apparent, tangible, and literal aspects. Or, to put it another way, tackling the ordinary is the first step toward reaching something more creative.
The phrase and the practice originate from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (yep, three of my favorite female writers in one article). Get over it!! ), which I originally came across while living in New York. A friend asked me to read this book with her and a few others over the course of a year, during which time we’d tap into our inner artists, hold each other responsible to creative goals, and, yes, eat Chipotle and drink wine in some of Manhattan’s most beautiful parks. Twist my arm, please!
Cameron recommends two activities—two “basic tools”—for anybody who wishes to bring more creativity into their life at the outset of the book: daily stream-of-consciousness writing for three pages, and twice-weekly “artist dates.” Read the book if you want to know about the dates; I’m here to tell you about the former.
Julia Cameron explains the potential of stream-of-consciousness writing for cleaning a cluttered mind on her website: “[Morning pages] are three pages of longhand morning writing done whenever you’re thinking of anything, such as: I forgot to purchase cat litter, I need to contact my sister back, I need to wash the curtains, it’s time to change the bed… They seem to have nothing to do with creation, but they do clean your mind; it’s as if you took a little dust-buster and went probing into all the corners of your awareness, and you came up with what you placed on the page.”
“Morning pages are supposed to pave the way for inspiration and art.”
My morning pages—of which I have many notebooks worth—are far from artistic. “I’m waiting for the coffee to brew,” most begin. I’m now sipping coffee. I’m exhausted. I’m not sure what to say except that I’m tired…why won’t this coffee work…?” Fortunately for me, they aren’t intended to be works of art. Morning pages are intended to pave the way for creativity and art to flourish.
If I stopped writing when I felt I had “nothing to say,” I’d never start, which is a pity since it’s usually on page two or three that I articulate something I didn’t know I needed to process. I had a major meeting with a supervisor coming up, and I wasn’t aware that I was nervous about my performance and role during it. I thought I’d moved on from a dispute with my spouse until I discovered I was still holding grudges against him.
I’ve had a brief bout of boredom, and I’ve managed to turn it into an antidote via writing. All of this was new to me until I wrote it down. Because those emotions and sentiments are visible outside of me, on paper, my subconscious mind doesn’t have to use energy attempting to bring them to my conscious mind for resolution. Are you apprehensive about the forthcoming meeting?
I’m aware of the tangible measures I can take to prepare. Is it possible that I’m not reconciled with my partner? I’m free to bring up anything is bothering me, as long as it benefits our relationship. Do you feel restless in your life? That’s a beast, but for the time being, I can put on a nice outfit, take a favorite short story collection, and sit outdoors for a while. Resolving these issues as soon as possible allows me to focus my energy (creative, spiritual, social, mental, psychological, and so on) on the projects and people I want to work with.
Cameron is well aware of the situation. “…when you write the negativity [or whatever comes up] on the paper, it doesn’t eddy around your awareness throughout the day,” she explains. Morning pages are a cleansing practice that helps you be more aware as you go about your day.”
The act of digesting, recognizing what my mind (and pen!) are focused on, and then being able to pay attention to those things allows me to start my day with my energies and priorities in order. After this process, my cluttered mind is typically cleansed, and I can go through the day focusing on the items I selected.
Do you have a morning page routine? Or do you have another method for regularly “decluttering the mind”?
Morning pages are a practice that many people find useful for decluttering the mind. They are also an important part of writing in general. Reference: what to do with morning pages.
- morning pages therapy
- morning pages before or after meditation
- morning pages notebook
- morning pages for mental health
- morning pages website