(Article was written by Gina Soldano, Freelance Writer For Hire. Her work can be found here)
You have ideas. So many that they’re swirling in your head like a thunderous tornado. But you never get around to doing any of them. You don’t know where to start. This one simple writing habit will help you make sense of the chaos.
You're not a writer? Or you don't think you're a good one? Not a problem! Any creative can benefit from this daily writing habit. There are no rules or the right way to write them. The only guideline that Cameron suggests is to write them every day for three pages in a stream of consciousness style. That just means you put pen to paper and don't stop until you reach the end of that third page.
What Are Morning Pages?
You're not a writer? Or you don't think you're a good one? Not a problem! Any creative can benefit from this daily writing habit. There are no rules or right way to write them. The only guideline that Cameron suggests is to write them every day for three pages in a stream of consciousness style. That just means you put pen to paper and don't stop until you reach the end of that third page.
How Do I Start This Writing Habit?
I know, every day for the rest of your life seems like a daunting thought. But, think about it. What other daily habits do you have? A cup of coffee? A walk outside? This writing habit is simple and fits in easily with any routine.
Create a Contract
In The Artist’s Way, Cameron actually has a contract for you to sign. It’s a commitment to do the morning pages for three months.
I have signed this contract a few times in my life to hold myself accountable to this lifelong writing habit. But I’ve found that it makes me feel guilty when I miss a day.
Sign a contract if that helps keep you accountable. Set it for any amount of time you feel comfortable with.
Pick the date when you are going to start this daily writing habit today. Mark it on your calendar. Set an alarm on your phone.
For extra accountability, announce it to friends and family. You can even post about it on social media.
I suggest starting tomorrow. It’s easy to lose momentum when starting new habits. The sooner you start, the sooner you get your creative flow back.
Set a Time
Before you start, decide what time of day you will write your pages. It's hard to fit something into a busy day if it isn't scheduled. Set aside 20-30 minutes (depending on how fast you write) and write it on every day in your calendar.
Cameron suggests doing your pages first thing in the morning, moments after you first wake up. That's great in theory, and it's the time of day I schedule mine.
But it's not the perfect time for everyone. Figure out when is the best time for you and commit. The important part is to make it a necessary part of your day.
How Do I Stick with Daily Writing?
It’s tough to write daily. You'll miss days, weeks, maybe even months. But you can always come back to them. They won't hold it against you.
I always notice a change in my mood when I miss my morning pages. Everything seems harder, and I become grumpier the longer I go. When I make my daily morning pages a priority again, I notice a significant lift in my mood within a couple of days.
If you struggle to sit down and write, there are tons of ways to trick yourself into getting it done. There are bribes: a fancy new notebook or pen, a new candle.
You could try creating a playlist for the exact amount of time it takes you to write 3 pages. Cue it up and try to beat the clock.
Set up a writing station with incense, a photo you love, or a new plant. Make it a place you enjoy, and look forward to being every day.
Away from Home
If you go away on vacation or for business, don't let that stop you from writing. Take your notebook with you and keep up this newly formed writing habit.
Just because you're in a different place doesn't mean you have to abandon your routine. Give yourself that time to write and evaluate your thoughts. It can be a beneficial tool for reflection in unfamiliar places.
If you are traveling with others, tell them what you're doing. Let them know you aren't to be disturbed during your writing time. It might take a few tries, but eventually, they'll accept your boundaries and leave you to your writing.
Things happen. Kids wake up from naps. Spouses come home early. Pipes burst. There are countless excuses to put off your pages when something happens during your scheduled time. Don't abandon your daily writing habit just because the neighbor stopped over for a chat!
Work around interruptions. Sometimes my son wakes up early and interrupts my morning pages. I try to do them in the afternoon when he's napping if that's the case. Sometimes he has a horrible day and won't nap at all after an early morning wakeup. Then, I leave him with my spouse when he gets home from work and have my daily writing time.
Figure out your contingency plans and tell others when you need support.
The Benefits of Daily Writing
Creating and maintaining a daily writing habit will benefit your life beyond your writing. Don’t believe me? Join others like Leo Babauta and Julia Cameron who live by their daily writing.
Some common benefits of daily writing:
Think more clearly
Space to reflect on life changes
Come up with new ideas regularly
These are just some of the benefits you will experience with your new daily writing habit. It's a muscle you have to flex as a writer to keep your words from sagging. And it's a tool that helps any creative work through problems, whether in art or life.
Through writing, people realize things about their life that they've been too scared to admit. They want out of their relationship. They want to change their job. They want to go back to school and so on.
I've used this daily writing to catapult my life in the right direction. When I feel lost about where I'm going or what I'm doing, I retreat to my pages. They're where my inner thoughts can run free. I've changed careers, moved across the country twice, and started countless writing projects all from this writing practice.
What date did you set to start your pages?