For the past six years every morning I've gotten up, taken out a pen and notebook and filled three pages with whatever comes into my mind. I've written my morning pages in Miami Beach, Amsterdam, London, Hawaii, on planes and buses. On mornings when I have to get up early I get up extra-early so that I can write them.
Why do I do this (and sometimes when, I assure you, there's nothing I want to do less)? Because it has had a tremendous effect on my days - and my life.
The morning pages exercise comes from a book called The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. Subtitled A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, it's a 12-week program to help anyone who would like to recover their creativity in any area of life by removing the blocks - fear, self-sabotage, guilt, and others - which prevent one's creative expression.
One of those blocks she calls the Censor, that part of you which wants to criticize everything you doãand is especially vocal when you take the risk of creative expression. The idea of the morning pages is to outwit the Censor. In writing them I give myself permission to say anything I want. My notebook is a censorship-free zone.
(I would like to note in passing that I write down my dreams before I write the three pages. I've found that they often furnish material for the morning pages.)
Sometimes I write three pages of complaints.
"I'm so cold; why do I live in the mountains? I wish I could fly south like the birds do. And there's MONTHS more of this."
Sometimes I write down all my worries or everything I resent about physical existence or the things I'm angry about. Sometimes I write about how I hate writing three pages.
One of the main purposes of the morning pages is for them to be a dumping ground for all the miserable, whining, self-loathing, complaining thoughts which are keeping me (or you) from expressing your creativity.
If you get them out of your system it's like emptying garbage which is giving the whole house a not-very-pleasant smell. When you get rid of the mental garbage your imagination takes on a new clarity.
I've already said that this is for anyone, but it's the kind of thing which needs to be repeated, as one of the biggest creative blocks is to think that one isn't, has never been, and could never be creative.
I look at it this way. There are two ways to live life: on automatic or creatively. I'm quite content to live parts of my life on automatic; I don't want to dream up new ways to brush my teeth or sit in a chair or breathe. However, if I want my life to be interesting, if I want to solve challenges I've got to be creative - whether or not I ever pick up a paintbrush or write.
Creativity means expressing and fulfilling your individuality. It's how you make a difference in your own life and in the world around you, and unless you are completely satisfied with your life it's possible that you may want to free up some creative energy.
Writing three pages every morning requires little monetary investment, no one has to see you fail (and it's impossible to fail at this), and you may find that, as I have, that your creativity will begin to flourish.
As I noted, I've often devoted my three pages to complaints and worries. Over the years, though, I've discovered that my capacity to complain, given full permission to express itself, runs down much more quickly than it did when I was saying to myself, "Oh, you are so disgusting. Do you call that positive thinking?"
When, instead, I listen to myself without judgment, I find that, even as I'm complaining, I'm simultaneously achieving deeper understanding of my inner workings and coming up with the beginnings of solutions.
The same is true of my worries. When I give myself permission to express everything which is worrying me, I feel a deep sense of release, and later on, when I read what I was worried about I notice that almost none of it came to pass.
(Note: Julia Cameron recommends when you first start on the pages that you don't read them for several weeks. At this point I usually read them a week to two weeks after I wrote them.)
I've used the three pages to write vicious letters to banks, mortgage companies, uncooperative businesses and individuals. I've had dialogues with my Censor (whom I prefer to call the Inner Critic). I've written about how passionately I don't want to do something, and later found that either I ended up not having to, or that doing it wasn't close to the ordeal I'd envisioned.
Not only have I discovered that complaints and worries, once dumped into the morning pages, don't get in the way of my later-day creativity, but I've also found myself getting creative during the writing of the pages. Several articles in the Rainbow Reflections newsletters originated with this exercise.
While you can benefit from the morning pages without having read The Artist's Way, I highly recommend the book, and, if you have the opportunity, an Artist's Way workshop.
Although I'd never had any interest in painting, after working with the book and taking the workshop I found myself in an art supply store buying tubes of paint and brushes, and a whole new dimension of creativity opened up for me.
This process could take you to equally surprising places and dimensions. That's what creativity is all about.
Perhaps your most helpful friend, especially during the early stages of this exercise, will be the Bach Flower Remedy, Beech, for judgment. Although this flower remedy is officially for judgment of others, the Beech dynamic is a clever one, and the Inner critic is quite capable of saying, "Look at what the person (you) is doing."
The crystal sugilite and the Bach Flower Remedy Willow can be very helpful in helping you to release resentment right onto the three pages, where they can rest in harmless obscurity.
If you feel self-conscious about writing these pages, Pink Monkeyflower (FES) is a good choice. If you feel you have nothing to say (believe me, you do), consider citrine for self-esteem.
If you find that your thoughts are scattering a grounding stone, such as smoky quartz, onyx, black tourmaline, hematite, red jasper, or obsidian, can be helpful.
To enhance your creative expression, the FES flower essences, Iris, for drawing down creative energy from spirit, or
Indian Paintbrush, for grounding that energy, (or both) can be very useful.