Monday, January 25, 2010

Thought #6: Morning Pages

I first read about morning pages 15 or so years ago in the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a very subtle, powerful process where one gets up each morning, gets their coffee (fill in your favorite beverage here), finds a quiet spot and writes three pages of thoughts in a cheap college notebook. You are encourage to just write a stream of thoughts and not stop until you have three pages filled. It takes 10 or 15 minutes at the most.

Since I teach a class about Turning Passions into Profit Streams, I hear a lot of hesitation, complains, and basically resistance when I suggest this to my students. Some of my favorites: I don’t have anything to write about, I don’t have time, I couldn’t possibly fill up three pages a day, I’m afraid of what I would find out, and on and on. All valid responses to such a simple but radical idea.

I had those thoughts too when I first read about morning pages. It sounded awful and scary. But I did it anyway and the process has proven to be one of the most important steps I have taken to improve my creative work, my relationships, my spirituality – my life.

When you begin, figure you will spend one to two weeks getting out the garbage; all the yuck revolving around and around in your brain. After a period of time though, most of those thoughts are down on paper and you’ll find you’ve come to some sort of resolve with them and they don’t seem to dominate your thoughts as they once did.

Now the fun begins: you start to write about your dreams, your aspirations, your ideas. You work out your fears around dreams and aspirations. You record and develop ideas and you start looking at situations from different perspectives.

Did I mention that you never go back and read those pages. You wrote them to get the thoughts/anxieties out of your head. The only time I read any of my morning pages is if I have a great idea; I flag it with a sticky note so I can find it later.

The Artist’s Way actually asks you to sign a contract for 40 days. That’s the amount of time it takes to cement a new habit. For 15 years I’ve been raving about morning pages. Most of my close friends have eventually had to try them just to get me off their backs. It’s a magical and beneficial process to scoot you closer to your dreams.

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