You might’ve heard of them in passing, but you’ve never quite understood what these “morning pages” were about—something about journaling in the a.m.? You’re not far off, but there’s still a little more to the story. Here’s everything you need to know about the practice to see if it might just be the thing to get you out of that 2020 funk.

What are morning pages exactly?

Morning pages are a writing exercise that originated from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a book that’s essentially become the how-to bible to help creatives overcome roadblocks. One of the most essential tools the book offers is the famed morning pages exercise, the ritual practice of taking pen to paper every single morning and writing three full pages of stream-of-conscious thoughts—nothing edited or held back. You just write three pages. About anything. That’s it. The purpose is to overcome all those little (or big) voices in the back of your head that hold you back from accessing your truth.

Do you have to be a creative to do morning pages?

While Cameron’s book is geared toward artists—musicians, writers, poets, dancers, actors, etc.—the broad-strokes idea on overcoming borders and boundaries we’ve created for ourselves in the name of self-growth and discovery can apply to any person’s experience. Whether you’re interested in accessing emotional truths about relationships in your life or digging into what your genuine career goals are, morning pages are kinda like therapy—recommended to anyone who’s open to what may come out of the process.

Why are they so helpful?

Obviously, morning pages aren’t a magic elixir that will solve all of your problems. That said…if you put in the time and effort and develop the habit of honest journaling, you can reap benefits from the work you do by unpacking your deepest thoughts and focusing in on what you really want, need or hope for. In their most crystallized form, morning pages help people isolate what’s wrong or troubling them in their lives and help them heal.

For example, perhaps you started your morning pages journey because you’ve been extremely anxious about the effects of COVID-19 on your kids’ social lives and learning prospects. Two weeks into your daily practice, you might find that getting your worries onto the page has actually cleared your head to tackle even deeper issues at the heart of your anxieties: fear your child will have same trouble with school you had.

Long story short: The clarity that a routine morning page practice brings can be the cold splash of water in your face you need to take the next step of your life in a new direction instead of idling in the same position of confusion.

OK, so how do I start doing morning pages?

Rules for morning pages

1. Do not let yourself be distracted

Even if three pages seems absolutely daunting, don’t pick up your phone or get up to run an errand. Stay focused, even if your brain is only letting you stream-of-conscious your grocery list.

2. Don’t share or read your morning pages

You will wind up self-editing your own thoughts if there’s even an inkling of possibility that another set of eyes will see your words. The entire point of morning pages is to radically accept your own thoughts. So, let your conscious roam free. And yes, that means refraining from reading your own pages. That said, if you do want to explore past thoughts, wait a month or so, so you don’t connect any notions of shame or judgment to your own work.

3. Do it every day

Oh no, you slept in! Get your pages done in the evening. It’s OK. Be consistent, but don’t punish yourself.

Here’s what you need before you start your practice:

1. A writing utensil
2. A journal or a pad of paper
3. Time set aside in your day (preferably in the morning) to complete three full pages

Do you need the fanciest pen and journal to embark on this self-journey? Of course not. But, if you think investing in a few quality products will get you motivated, go for it. And do you need to write in the morning? Not necessarily—make time for the three pages at whatever part of the day works for you. We like the idea of morning because you can easily integrate it into another routine you probably have already: your a.m. coffee. It also means your brain is only partially awake, so you’re less likely to police your own thoughts.

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Anthropolgie

1. Braided Suede Journal

Suede and leather cover, tie closer and 140 unlined pages to soak up your thoughts.

Buy it ($32)

Anthropologie

2. Muse Journal

A whimsical hard-cover design with 180 lightly dotted-grid pages.

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Anthropologie

3. Margaret Journals, Set of 3

Crafted from recycled paper, this set of three, 36-page lined journals means you can keep one on your desk, one in your bag and one wherever your heart desires.

Buy it ($12)

Verishop

4. Contemporary Pebble Grained Journal

With its silver gilt-edged ivory paper, the lined pages of this journal might just inspire the best of your thoughts.

Buy it (was $50, now $30)

Society6

5. “Hold On, Overthink This” Journal

Printed on high-quality 70lb text paper for minimal bleedthrough, there’s the option for one or a set of three, in lined or unlined options. Decisions decisions.

Buy it (was $15, now $10)

Bed Bath & Beyond

6. kate spade new york Polka Dot Pen and Pencil Set in Gold

Writing utensils, but make it fashion.

Buy it ($42)

Amazon

7. Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

The price might seem steep for a pen, but any pen collector knows that this guy is worth the money. Light, sturdy and writes “like butter,” according to one user.

$16 at Amazon

Amazon

8. Arteza Rollerball Pens (Pack of 20)

With 20 to a pack, these are widely considered one of the best bangs for your buck.

$17 at Amazon

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