Journaling joy with Morning Pages

By Derek Zboran

Between night and day, there is dawn.

And many creatives use this time for a special kind of game.

The game is popularly known as Morning Pages.

Julia Cameron popularized it with her book The Artist’s Way, published in1992. It has helped a diverse range of creatives seeking clarity, voice, and confidence. Everybody from Martin Scorsese to Anne Lamott endorses the game of Morning Pages.

Morning Pages refers to a daily ritual of journaling.

But not just any type of journaling. Stream of consciousness writing!

Your journal becomes a non-judgmental outlet for whatever thoughts cross your mind. It’s about raw expression, allowing your inner narrative to spill onto paper in a rush of honesty and insight.

No structure. Just expression.

Your notepad becomes a canvas for your perspective. Between the borders of each page you drain ideas, thoughts, questions, words, and feelings into an abstract masterpiece. Unstructured and unjudged. In these pages everything is allowed — fear, hope, anger, and boredom. A rule of the game is that you do not ruminate on anything in particular. You give your brain a place to drain and then you move on with your day.

Practicing Morning Pages

I am three weeks into my personal journey with Morning Pages.

Biggest takeaway?

Stream of consciousness journaling is helping my days flow better.

I shift through the cycles of my day with more ease. Even the mundane chores of daily life feel better.

My creativity has found new confidence which is helping me chug along on my biggest creative projects. Everything from character sketches for my novel Rootless to the final workshops for my course Personal Blog Breakthrough.

The practice of Morning Pages — along with Daily Drawing and now 15 minutes of guitar too — is becoming the backbone of self-exploration.

Journaling is helping me prioritize self-discovery. To me, this is the greatest strength of stream of consciousness. As creators, we MUST cultivate a point of view that resonates with authenticity and conviction. The uninhibited flow of thoughts naturally permits the raw power of your voice.

Stream of consciousness journaling is a freedom that structured tasks — even when creative — restrain.

Experiencing Morning Pages

Each morning my notebook greets me with a blank canvas. It is in this space where I paint a self-portrait of my perspective.

When I start thinking too hard about what to write, I know I am breaking the rules of the game. This is a time for spontaneous expression.

Morning Pages take me through my internal landscape. What unfolds in the pages of my notebook is a seemingly crude mosaic of words, feelings, experiences, questions, and knowledge. They reflect fear, desire, compassion, and more. Things I write about in my Morning Pages journal are subjective fragments of my experience.

Spontaneously draining the mind into a yellow notepad can reveal some interesting insights about the self. We’re not supposed to review or ruminate — and I do not.

But I’ll be writing about something and suddenly I will feel something truthful to the core of my being. Often, the direct topic I am writing about becomes meaningless. It is the feeling behind it that brings me to a feeling of wholeness.

Some people do the exercise in quiet. Others play music conductive to meditation.

I meditate to jazz. Good for spontaneous creation!

Bill Evans, with his intricate jazz piano compositions, frequently accompany me.

Whether a solo album or a classic from his iconic trio, his music plugs electricity into my morning ritual. It adds vitality to my moods of mindfulness, creativity, and reflection.

Embracing the Power of Morning Pages

The art of Morning Pages is not about crafting the perfect sentence nor about producing work meant for others to see.

It is a private dance of words, a raw conversation with oneself, and a way to untangle the myriad of threads that make up the complex tapestry of our internal lives.

It’s about granting yourself the freedom to…

  • Explore without expectation.
  • Write without reservation.
  • Discover without limits.

Sometimes these yellow pages become a confession booth. Other times they are that special friend who listens first and talks later. By transferring thoughts onto paper, we often find that our feelings and ideas take on a new clarity. The very act of writing in the morning can set the tone for the rest of the day, bringing with it a sense of “being grounded” that empowers one in both personal and professional spheres.

Morning Pages are an invitation into the foggy landscapes of our minds. They give us permission to cast aside the critic, allow the clutter to spill out, and listen intently to the whispers of our true voice.

I invite you to embrace the journaling joy that Morning Pages offer.

How do you get started?

  1. Pick up a notebook. Yellow legal pads are my favorite.
  2. Get a pen. You don’t need a pencil because you will not be erasing.
  3. Write three pages everyday. In the morning. Preferably, right after you wake up. I like to do mine after drinking a bottle of water and starting the morning coffee.

Set your thoughts free and explore the boundless territories of your inner landscape. There is nothing to fear here. Your voice — one of truth, helpfulness, and kindness — is waiting to be exercised. Give it a chance.