Morning Pages offers a simple way to to harness creativity, wherever it’s needed.
Creativity comes in many forms and has useful outlets, just not the strictly artistic.
But what is the wellspring of creativity? And what happens if creativity and inspiration fails you?
The Broad has recently adopted the practice of Morning Pages, inspired by Julia Cameron, who originally conceived of the practice to inspire creativity by tapping into an internal creative source and help stuck writers overcome their writers block with a kind of free writing.
Psychologists will regularly suggest to their patients that they take up a regular habit of journalling, where they have the space to get their thoughts – good, bad and ugly – out and on the page. It’s mean to offer a kind of purging of this psychic rubbish but in the process it helps bring clarity around feelings and insight about what someone is feeling and what’s going on in their life.
So what are the Morning Pages?
So just what are the Morning Pages? It’s simplicity belies the power and discipline of the practice. It’s the habit of writing three pages of longhand writing, stream of consciousness, which is done first thing in the morning. Ideally the pages should be A4 in size and Cameron believes that after about the middle of the second page is when the clarity of ideas or realisations come into focus.
“There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages,” says Cameron on her website explaining the practice.
“They are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only.
Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
We have Julia Cameron to thank for Morning Pages
Julia Cameron started out in her career writing for The Washington Post, then moving onto Rolling Stone and other publications practising what’s called Journalism that developed in the 1960s and 1970s and uses literary techniques from fiction writing with fact-based journalism and non-fiction writing.
In the early 1990s, Cameron released her book The Artist’s Way, which has sold over 4 million copies, and inspired legions of writers, artists and everyday people looking for creative help.
Cameron believes that the practice of Morning Pages can even lead to big improvements in almost all areas of your life. It will help find solutions to problems, improve relationships and even help improve your relationships. Now there’s a reason they need to be written first thing in the morning. Nowadays that means before turning the phone or opening a laptop and being sucked into the day’s news, social posts and work emails. It needs to be a time before the inner critic as well as the ego has kicked in and writing to the full three pages means setting aside judgment to write to the end of those pages. Try it, you’ll be surprised by what happens after a page or so and a few weeks of doing it every day.
Can we all benefit from the Morning Pages?
We’re all busy and the idea of trying to add in other thing to the day, especially first thing in the morning, can seem impossible. But the Broad can see there’s value in the practice, having adopted it about a week ago after listing to The Shift podcast where Sam Baker talked to Julia Cameron about her life and creative endeavours.
It’s liberating to write in long hand, whatever comes to mind, without having any pressure that the writing has to be good or for any particular purpose. It’s just simply your thoughts and feelings and for you alone. It’s a dumping ground as much as a light bulb experience to process this crazy thing called life. The cheapest, more convenient form of therapy. Just free writing and letting it all come out, the pages can be done in 30 minutes or less and only need a pen and a simple A4 lined book that you can stash in the drawer until the next morning. Once in the habit, it’s probably the case that you’ll come to miss it if you skip a morning and even during the day look forward to tomorrow’s opportunity to release.
As Oliver Burkemen writes in The Guardian, “You can write about whatever’s on your mind: petty worries, soaring plans, angry tirades… I wish I’d started long ago.”
Inspiration for creativity
If life seems to get in the way of creative pursuits (yep, everyday), then perhaps take inspiration from someone who dumped house cleaning in favour of writing.
Maybe you need to live completely alone, like these hermettes, to give yourself creative time.