Change Your Life with Morning Pages

Morning pages are something incredible that I took from a meh book. A short while back I listened to the Julia Cameron audiobook The Artist’s Way. While the book was not my cup of spiritual tea, I did take something from it. Something really great. Morning pages.

The title of the post may sound a bit extreme, but it’s not. My adaptation of morning pages has really changed my life. And they can change your life too. While Julia sees them as something spiritual, I really, really don’t. I do, however agree with her on two things:

They are an farewell to life as you knew it, and an introduction to life as it’s going to be.

and

They have nothing to do with creativity, but what they do is clear your mind.

To me, morning pages are active meditation.

Caylee Grey :: Change Your Life with Morning Pages

How I make morning pages work for me

Morning pages have two requirements: they are done in the morning, and they are done on pages. Duh. So those are the requirements I follow. As I mentioned, these are not spiritual for me. It is simply a brain vomit. I guess it’s spiritual in that I feel lighter afterwards. But I do not feel closer to God. Perhaps you would. These pages are also distinctly lacking in creativity – I don’t even try write neatly. There’s no pressure.

My process

After I’ve woken up in the morning, I make a mug of coffee, a glass of water, and I sit on my patio table with two notebooks: my daily planner, and my A4 everything notebook. I use my easy-writing Bic pen, and my pretty handwriting UniPin Fine Line. I don’t check my cellphone. I journal. I list things. I write things to get done. I write what dinners I’m planning, people I need to catch up on. I write lofty dreams, things that have happened, that I wish Griffin would stop eating flies because he doesn’t know the difference between flies and wasps.

Julia recommends forcing yourself to write three pages. I don’t. I write until my mind is clear. I usually end up with two “vomit pages” and one or two summary pages. So the summary pages: this is something that Julia doesn’t mention, but I’ve found is imperative for me. Once I’m done emptying my mind, I quickly go through it, and make a “vomit” to do list. A vomit to do list is a long ass to do list, with items that are not equal. Some will get done, some need to get done, and some are really not important. I will chat about this another time, but this is the next step to my morning pages. If I wrote about Griffin’s fly eating, I might remember that he’s almost finished his kibble, and I need to buy more. If I wrote about grand dreams, I write one thing I can do right now to become closer to the dream. Since I tend to think in to do lists, I find more things that my brain had stored away that didn’t come out in the journaling.

After this vomit to do list, I choose three things that I want to focus on and make them my MITs for the day.

Caylee Grey :: Change Your Life with Morning Pages

How to make morning pages work for you

  • do it first thing in the morning. Don’t check email before, don’t check your phone, don’t connect to the outside world. Let your significant other know that morning is quiet time. If your mind is constantly worrying, leave your phone on silent except for one number that would phone you for emergencies. If your life is too busy in the morning, wake up half an hour earlier.
  • find a spot. You can stay in bed, although it always makes me sleepy. Get away from distractions. My outside patio is my “chill” place. Find your chill place.
  • go analog. You have to do this on actual paper with an actual pen.
  • just. write. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing badly. Don’t worry about the subject matter. Don’t worry about your handwriting. These are pages for you. They are not a blog. They are not a journal you’re going to leave your children. You’re not going to blog them. Vomit the thoughts inside of your head onto the paper with your pen. You know how you feel so much better after having a vomit even though the actual vom is not that great? Yeah. That’s what happens here.
  • have an assigned journal. Since morning pages are super general, you can use your journal for other “every”things too, but do not pressurise yourself into trying to make this an art journal, or to keep it looking pretty. This is meant to be an ugly journal, with ugly handwriting. This is the journal for getting rid of the gunk so that you can focus your creativity and make it better.

The next step

Depending on how you’re going to be using your morning pages, they might be different things. On some days, my morning pages are pure journaling. Other days it’s a list with things that I need to do, should do, want to do. No matter what they are, I always, always feel clear minded. Before morning pages, I thought that the inability to feel clear minded was just a grown up thing.

Try it out for a week. Just do it every day for 7 days (yes, weekends included). See where it leads you. Make it your own.

Caylee Grey :: Change Your Life with Morning Pages

  • This sounds so genius. I don’t think this would be a spiritual thing for me either, but it sounds like an organized way of doing what I already do throughout the day. I like that this must be done analog – too often I use my phone to quickly write (type) things down as they come to mind, and as a result my “notes” app on my iPhone is overflowing with hundreds (literally) of random notes that are usually lacking in context and difficult for me to decipher a week or more later. Love this idea.

    • I use my to do list app on my phone if I want to remember something, with the deadline for the next day so that I process it quickly. Sometimes I feel like I’m better at processing things externally than my brain is internally, so this system works really well for me.

  • I have done this in the past, and I loved the way it made me feel. For some reason I stopped doing it. I even forgot about the concept. Thanks so much for reminding me :)
    Also – I love the photos in this post. LOVE them.

    XO!

    • Thank you, lovely. It’s my lovely huge balcony <3 Glad that I reminded you, they really do make a person feel great.

  • I always have grand plans to get up earlier than I have to for work and child organising it have a few minutes to myself but then my lazy bum self kicks in and I stay in bed! I like the idea of trying this for a week though and seeing how it goes, seven days is a much more manageable commitment.

    • Oh yeahh! Seven days is manageable. When I first started waking up, I had to force myself but pretty soon it became easy, and even enjoyable. I love my morning water and coffee. The rest of the day’s glasses and mugs just don’t taste the same.

  • I have been wanting to do something like this for a while now but never got around to doing it because when I have school, I just don’t want to get up in the mornings and rather sacrifice having breakfast at home so I can sleep 5-10 minutes longer – so I don’t have time to journal anything. But now that I still have 3 weeks of summer holidays left, it would be a good time to make this a habit :)
    Thanks for the inspiration/reminder – and I agree with Stephanie, love the photos in this post!

    • Enjoy your last three weeks. Who knows, maybe you enjoy morning pages enough to give up those 10 minutes of sleep ;)

  • I’m a fan of doing morning pages too, but I love your idea of a summary. I’m going to try that. I’ve noticed lately I’m getting into a bad habit of checking m and my phone first and if I do, I miss the morning pages moment!

    • Ugh, phone checking is my absolute downfall. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and makes me super passive. I know I’m going to regret it, and I do it anyway, and then regret it. I need to be incredibly active about it.

  • I really, really like this idea….wouldn’t be so many pages for me, since I’m rather stressed in the mornings, but at least a list would be possible..hm…
    Thanks for sharing! :)

  • so I tried doing these morning pages. Twice..
    And by twice I mean I tried it for a bit last year and then again earlier this year..
    All it dd was make me feel depressed….

    But I have to say I did it the “official” way..

    • You’ve gotta push through the depressing parts. Once you’ve got all those dark bits out away from your brain you keep going and going until the dark bits aren’t threatening anymore, and they don’t make you feel badly. Mine are often depressing, and putting them away in a notebook makes me feel lighter. Sometimes I have to paint over them with black paint, though!

  • trying this- i write lists all over the place- fill in calendars and planners – but i like this idea- love the vomit page and also the list of three things to do- I love checking off things after I have completed them!! Thanks for sharing!

    • I used to segment my entire life, and have a Moleskine for each part. Now it’s all mushing together in one A4 journal and I’m really enjoying it.

  • Hey Caylee,
    This is brilliant. I tried Morning Pages for 3 months back when I was first starting to discover the artistic side of myself, about 10 years ago. They made me kind of insane, and definitely did NOT clear my mind. All they did was make me feel even *more* pressured about stuff I needed to do. To be fair, I was in a high-pressure job at the time, and I had to do a zillion things every day. So I stopped. I LOVE your idea of taking the brain vomit pages and turning them into a semi-to-do list and a 3 things to-do-list. BRILLIANT. This is exactly what was missing from my morning pages before. I’m going to try this again! Thanks :)

  • Such an interesting read! I’ve heard great things about the book you mentioned and about morning pages before, but sadly I’m yet to give it a go. I think it’s important to clear your mind in the morning so you can see the day with a positive mindset. You’ve motivated me to try this out now so thank you! Lovely post, hope you have the best day!!

    Nabeela x
    http://nabsticle.blogspot.co.uk

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