Early impressions on morning pages

A yellow notebook laying on a table with a black ballpoint pen on top of it.

A couple of months ago, I was feeling that I should think more about things. It was not that I was too busy to think – the problem was that my thinking was scatter-brained.

Since then, I’ve discovered a practice that helps. It’s called morning pages and the idea is this: every morning, you sit down, grab a pen, and write three pages. Just write about whatever pops in your mind.

Basically it’s a journaling pratice. The idea comes from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I have not read the book, but, as far as I can tell, you do not need to read the book to use the method.

Writing morning pages does two things for me:

  • It offers me a moment every day to sit down and be in touch with the stuff that is on my mind.
  • Writing it down helps me to focus and actually pursue lines of thought instead of just jumping around.

Topics I’ve written about range from the taste of my morning coffee to my thoughts on company strategy. There’s no wrong topic to write about, it’s just what happens to be on my mind on any given morning.

I’ve tried it a few times before, but this time I’ve stuck to it. Since I started in early November, I’ve written 16 times – not every day, but almost. It’s working so well that my intention is to continue until I’ve done it 100 times.

In practice, I write three pages with a pen in an A5 size notebook. I write in my native Finnish. It takes me about half an hour to write the 350 or so words. When I wake up, first I have breakfast and then I write; but if I can’t write in the morning, I try to do it later in the day.

It’s worth it to experiment a bit with the specifics. For example, I tried to write on the computer, but I found that I prefer the limit of three physical pages to a word limit on the screen. There’s something satistfying about filling a notebook, too.

It’s better to have a length limit instead of a time limit to ensure that you actually write something. If nothing else pops in your mind, you can write about how nothing else pops in your mind.

You don’t need a fancy pen or a fancy notebook to write your morning pages, but if you are into such things, morning pages are a great opportunity to use them. If you don’t want to keep a written record of your thoughts around, you can use loose sheets and put them into a shredder once you’re done. That’s okay, too.

I’ll report back in March when I’ve completed the 100-morning project. Meanwhile, you should give it a go.

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