Morning pages: How writing when waking up changed my life

This one simple practice changed everything (Picture: Getty/

I’m a writer, so you can probably guess that I’ve tried many types of journaling throughout my life.

From keeping a diary in my childhood to bullet journaling and beyond, I’ve gone through more notebooks than I could possibly count. No matter how many times I tried, however, and no matter how many journaling prompts I’ve followed, there’s something about the habit that never stuck with me.

When I first heard about the concept of morning pages, however, something felt different, and I decided to give it a go.

Originally introduced by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, the concept behind morning pages is very simple: write three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning, every morning.

While Cameron encourages morning pages to be handwritten (rather than typed), her website emphasizes that there isn’t a right or wrong way to do morning pages.

It’s simply about writing about anything and everything that comes to mind in order to clear your mind before starting your day.

The rules of ‘morning pages’

‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.

‘There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages.

‘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

‘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.’

– The Artist’s Way

There’s nothing else to the practice — no rules, guidelines, or process — and it’s something that is easy to make entirely your own.

Oddly enough? It was exactly what I needed.

The first time I tried morning pages, it felt a little bit awkward. I didn’t have a notebook handy to begin the practice, so rather than filling three pages, I challenged myself to write for 15 minutes.

hands about to write on plain notepad

There’s no pressure, no rules: just write (Picture: Getty /

Even though I knew that it didn’t need to be ‘good writing’ or particularly meaningful, however, it was a challenge to put words on paper. Some days were more difficult than others, but the more I committed to doing the practice every single day, the easier it became.

I also found that changing my approach to morning pages made it easier to stay committed.

Rather than viewing it as a traditional journal used to document the external — like different events and things that were happening in my life — I tried to focus on writing about the internal — my thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas, frustrations, and more.

Surprisingly, this made a massive impact on my mental health. The process of writing every single morning became a way for me to clear my head, giving me an emotional ‘blank slate’ upon which to start my day, which meant I was carrying less of my stress and anxiety with me on a day-to-day basis.

Morning pages also became a wonderful tool for me to vent my frustrations, work through emotional issues, or simply explore different ideas I had about my life. Much like talking with a trusted friend, the process of writing every single morning meant I was able to be a resource to myself.

woman smiling while working on computer

Ideally you write with a pen and paper, but if you’re in a pinch, typing is fine (Picture: Getty/

I started relying on writing things out as a way to process my emotions, which meant I was able to handle difficult situations better than ever before.

Over time, this started having ripple effects in different areas of my life. The clarity I’d gained into my own thoughts and emotions meant my communication improved greatly, which helped bolster my relationships with my spouse and my friends.

Not only that, but having the space to write about my stress or anxiety helped me learn how to get better at identifying my own problems when they arise.

If I was stressed about a new project at work, for instance, writing about it helped me get to the underlying issues — and solve them — before they escalated.

My creativity skyrocketed, my mood improved, and my overall stress levels started to drop… all from one tiny morning habit.

Within a few weeks of starting using morning pages, I realised that I wasn’t just writing out all of my thoughts and feelings, I’d started responding to them as well.

man stretching in bed as the sun rises

Turns out morning pages are a life-changing way to start your day (Picture: Getty/

Writing a sentence about how I felt anxious about something was quickly followed by another about understanding, listing potential sources of my anxiety, and sharing different things I could do to make myself feel better.

As someone who has always struggled with a tendency to be overly self-critical, I was treating myself with grace and understanding — much like I would with a close friend — and my relationships, work, and even my health seemed to be improving as a result.

Coincidental? Experts suggest otherwise. Several studies point to the power of self-compassion to reduce stress and combat burnout, increase motivation and creativity, and more.

Our society emphasizes pushing yourself to the brink as the key to success, but more and more research suggests that the ability to give yourself a break might actually be a better way to develop a growth mindset and achieve your goals.

And for me, morning pages has been the tool that facilitated that growth. Even on the days where my journal reads more like a laundry list of petty complaints, whining about the weather or how tired I am, I’m still doing something for me.

I’m still showing up for myself — giving myself space to be tired or annoyed or creative or supportive — and the more I do it, the better I feel.

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