As people have become interested in my writing challenge, a great way to begin writing consistently is through morning pages.
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron explains that morning pages are “three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness…there is no wrong way to do morning pages.”
By putting in the work, we “undertake certain spiritual exercises to achieve alignment with the creative energy of the universe.” It’s like speaking our truth and providing an opportunity for the world to answer.
“As a rule of thumb, it is best to just admit that there is always one action you can take for your creativity daily. This daily-action commitment fills the form.” The small, consistent steps are how we bring long-term change to our lives.
To become an artist, we need to show up every day and work. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield carries a similar message that the only way to overcome “the resistance” is to fight it daily. Cameron instructs us to:
Show up at the page. Use the page to rest, to dream, to try.
Set small and gentle goals and meet them.
Pray for guidance, courage, and humility.
Be alert, always, for the presence of the Great Creator leading and helping my artist.
Remember that it is my job to do the work, not judge the work.
But what am I writing about?
While this sounds daunting, we’re just allowing our inner soul to be free. Even if we start by writing “I don’t know” over and over, our hearts and minds will slowly bleed through. The thoughts may be joyful or angry, but it’s about drawing those thoughts out.
The morning pages force us to get specific. Does “I feel okay” mean I feel resigned, accepting, comfortable, detached, numb, tolerant, pleased, or satisfied?
For some, this process provides healing. Writer Anton Checkhov said, “If you want to work on your art, work on your life.” These pages begin that transformation.
Cameron says, “Focused on process, our creative life retains a sense of adventure. Focused on product, the same creative life can feel foolish or barren.“ This echoes Hindu scripture. The Bhagavad Gita states, “You have the right to work, but for the work’s sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive…” If we find joy in the process rather than the end, our satisfaction shall be eternal.
Now, sometimes we fear running out of things to write about, but I’ve realized the opposite. “Since everyone can draw on the universal supply, we deprive no one with our abundance.” The more we write, the more we have to write. Similar to my experience tithing in church; the outward focus changed my mindset from scarcity to abundance. Abundance unlocks infinite possibilities.
What does this look like for me?
When I started morning pages, I wrote them on paper, except it took forever because I write small and slow. I switched to a 1000-word free write in a word doc and let my fingers drive. 20 minutes later, I’m done. Sometimes, I wrote garbage. Sometimes, epiphanies. Always, I felt liberated. I think the depth was slightly better when handwritten, but my consistency was better typed.
Having them typed provides one additional advantage: capturing ideas. Cameron says we must, “Read your morning pages! This process is best undertaken with two colored markers, one to highlight insights and another to highlight actions needed. Do not judge your pages or yourself. This is very important. Yes, they will be boring. Yes, they may be painful. Consider them a map. Take them as information, not an indictment.” In a journal, I have an extra step to save them. On the computer, I’m done.
If you decide to take up this journey, the results might not be instant but show up every day and the world will answer.