I read Julia Cameron's seminal book the "Artist's Way" over 20 years ago. She encouraged 3 pages of longhand, spontaneous writing first thing in the morning as a way to clear out negativity.
I dedicated myself to writing Morning Pages for ten years during my 30's when I was struggling with intense bouts of emotional pain. Writing daily for half an hour, just upon waking, solidified my devotion to listen to all aspects of myself.
Inviting the Negative to Speak
My morning pages journals were filled with negativity in the form of complaints, grief, anger, sadness, self-sabotage, disempowerment, frustration and more. Yet, after I was finished writing each morning, I felt clearer. I could see positive polarities that my negative thoughts had been obscuring.
You could think of Morning Pages as your daily negativity cleanse! Many of us rarely get beyond the negative self-talk that eddies around in our heads. We might have fleeting ideas about inspiring projects and larger life goals, and then easily get caught in distraction, doubt, and negative self-talk. Morning Pages give our negative thoughts a voice and a place, so they do not dominate our day.
Julia Cameron shares:
"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 only. 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."
"When you put your negativity on the page it is not eddying through your consciousness during the day."
~ Julia Cameron
Writing From the Shadow
Written blurry-eyed, first thing in the morning, my Morning Pages journals were emotionally messy. Sunny and cheerful in my professional life, privately, I wrote darkly for many years. When my mind was still on the edge of sleep, in touch with what was buried in my unconscious mind, my daily writing process allowed forbidden topics to arise up from my shadow.
Some of us pressure ourselves to be positive all of the time. It can feel unproductive to complain day after day in your journal. You might think that this form of writing is a way of "practicing" negative emotions. However, I found a way to re-examine my negative Morning Pages writings in a way that invited affirmative change.
Contemplating Positive Change
After my entire Morning Pages journal was finished, I usually spend a weekend contemplating what I had written. I looked for repetitive themes and deeper meanings in my writing. I circled sentences and words that stood out as emotionally strong with different colored markers.
My "negative rants" helped me to become much more self-aware. Negative emotions always signal how we need to make new positive life choices. I always left 3-5 blank pages at the end of my journal so that I could gather my final insights. After I wrote a final summary of what I had learned, I knew exactly how I needed to change.
Julia Cameron offers a wonderful spoken description of Morning Pages HERE.