Smiling man writing his book

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart…

~William Wordsworth

Writing as a way to connect to your inner workings is nothing new. Journaling is such a common idea that we don’t really think about what it means to sit down and write. What exactly do you write in your journal? How do you access whatever deep secrets are hiding in your psyche?

Morning Pages

That’s where Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, comes in. Cameron developed the book as a “course in discovering and recovering your creative self.” The most important part of this course is the commitment to writing every day.

The writing is personal, a way to work through whatever you’re struggling with. The goal is to help you move beyond your blocks so you can discover the creative, expressive artist inside.

Cameron calls this writing morning pages. The idea is to start writing early in the morning before your left brain has started to get busy telling you what to do. You just start writing whatever floats to the top of your mind. Morning pages are the answer to your question, “How do I start writing?”

Since nobody else is privy to this writing, some interesting things come out. Some are beautiful and some are ugly and dark and pissed off. And—that’s OK. Cameron explains it this way: “These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art… 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.”

Morning pages are a safe place to celebrate your victories or to rage and vent, to get it out and learn whatever it has to teach you.

How To Write Morning Pages

Sometimes the words flow easily and quickly, and other times it’s a chore. But when you make it a routine, your subconscious mind knows that it has a place to process some things that you’ve been hiding from yourself. Your mind knows the power of the page.

I’m often surprised by the powerful memories that come up in my morning pages and impressed by my own power of denial. For example, sometimes old memories come up, and I realize I’ve never examined how I feel about them. And bam! Those emotions hit right then. How could I have avoided feeling that for so long? But there it is, I can feel it and see the effects right now. I usually get some new insight. Then I can move ahead and see the gifts in that experience.

This kind of writing can become a part of your gratitude practice. There’s something very powerful about putting words on paper. It can help you get past whatever is blocking your happiness, and can free you to move forward.

Practices

Here are a few things to try:

  • When you wake up, set aside a few minutes to jot down whatever you’re grateful for.
  • If that doesn’t come easily, ask, “How do I start writing?” Or, “What do I need to write today?” You might be surprised by what comes up. Write it down.
  • Give yourself permission to write whatever comes up. No censoring, it’s OK. Even if it feels scary when you’re writing it, the issue could be blocking your path to gratitude and happiness. Getting it down on paper takes the mystery and secrecy out of it. Like most things, it may not be as scary in the daylight.
  • Your writing may bring up old anger, grief, and memories. Welcome them. If you wonder why they’re showing up now, go ahead and ask the pages. “Why now?” “What do I have to learn from this?” “How can I let it go?” Then listen. Write down the answers that come to you.
  • At the end of your writing sessions, turn your focus back to gratitude. Write down whatever pops into your head.

You can write every day, or as often as you like. Do what works for you.

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The blog post above is an excerpt from The Gratitude Connection, by Amy Collette, available in print, ebook, and audiobook.