Personal Growth

For Maximum Creativity, Start Your Day With Morning Pages

With all the random thoughts that buzz around your brain throughout the day — "I hope Sara isn't mad at me. I need to get an oil change. What's the difference between a hazelnut and a filbert, anyway?" — it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. Especially if the task at hand is creative and requires letting your mind go. Well, author Julia Cameron has a fix for that. They're called morning pages.

Related Video: A Simple Exercise for Creativity

Put It Down, Get It Out

Cameron first wrote about morning pages in her seminal 1992 book "The Artist's Way," and the practice has since spread like wildfire. It's deceptively simple: When you get out of bed in the morning, write three pages longhand — not typed. Write what, you might ask? Anything. Everything. "There is no wrong way to do morning pages," she writes. "These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing ... Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included."

The point, Cameron explains, is to get rid of all of the petty, silly, stupid, weird thoughts that block your creative expression throughout the day by getting them down on paper. They're not even meant to be read — just write them down and put them in an envelope. If you must, you can go back a few months later and read the gibberish you wrote, but until then, keep them out of sight. "Nobody is allowed to read your morning pages except you," she warns.

Just Simple Enough to Work

It might sound ridiculous, but there's solid science behind getting things down on paper and out of your brain. Writing your to-do list before you go to sleep, for example, has been shown to keep nagging anxieties from keeping you awake and helps you get to sleep faster. Another study showed that writing about a stressful or traumatic event can help reduce anxiety in people who generally express their emotions.

And of course, there are the testimonials. In The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman couldn't speak highly enough of morning pages. "Morning Pages create a metaphorical private domain — one so valuable, I find it hard to imagine I'll ever stop."

Likewise, entrepreneur Chris Winfield says they've changed his life "in a myriad of ways." "In the 241 days since I started doing Morning Pages, I have missed doing them twice. On both of those days, I was a bit more anxious, my thoughts were muddled and I just felt off," he writes. "Morning Pages are one of these things that sound so simple that you don't think they could ever work for you. One of the things that I have realized in life is that many of the best things are really simple but our complicated minds want to tell us they won't work for us." Give it a try — it's so simple, it just might work.

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For more wisdom from a classic book on creativity, check out "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Ashley Hamer March 22, 2018

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