Journaling Techniques: 12 Tips for Writing Morning Pages

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Dec 9, 2019 • 5 min read

Writing in a journal is an act of self-expression that is done periodically to record feelings and inspire ideas. Morning pages serve a deeper purpose. This type of journaling is a cathartic, ritualistic writing process that clears your mind, builds confidence, and creates a path for greater creativity.



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What Are Morning Pages?

Morning pages are a stream-of-consciousness journaling habit done first thing every morning on a daily basis. The idea is to wake up, open your morning journal, and write three pages of longhand of any thoughts that come out of your head. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, created this approach to journaling as a way for people to unleash their creativity.

4 Benefits of Writing Morning Pages

Writing morning pages is a very specific discipline devoted to your mental well-being. Here are some of the ways morning pages can benefit you:

  1. Morning pages enable you to clear your mind. When you wake up, your mind is swimming with thoughts from the previous night. When you write off the top of your head first thing in the morning, the words that spill out onto the blank page will no longer be taking up space in your brain, and you can approach the rest of the day with more clarity.
  2. Morning pages allow you to process emotion. Life can be overwhelming. On top of personal stress, we are bombarded with heavy information in the news—some of it tragic. It’s okay to grieve and process these stories. Morning pages give you the space to do this, freeing your mind from information that can weigh you down and affect your productivity and your life.
  3. Morning pages unleash your creativity. Being creative takes discipline. Making the time to sit down and write that novel or short story often gets pushed aside. By writing morning pages, you’re establishing a routine that will help you find a way to make time for your creative self. Once you get into the habit of writing morning pages, finding the time for your creative endeavors will come easier.
  4. Morning pages silence your inner critic. Before even putting pen to paper, writers can be their own worst critics. Stream-of-consciousness writing accesses only what’s on your brain at that moment, leaving no room for self-criticism.
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12 Tips for Writing Morning Pages

While writing morning pages is a fairly straightforward practice, there are tips that can help you make the most of your daily writing practice:

  1. Start journaling. It’s easy to make excuses and say you’ll start morning pages another day, especially if you’re not a morning person. There has to be a first time in order to initiate this new morning routine. Set your alarm, wake up, and start writing. Before you know it you’ll have a daily writing habit.
  2. Write longhand. For morning pages, write longhand only. Writing with pen and paper takes time and allows you to process what you’re expressing. Also, longhand takes longer to keep up with your thoughts which leaves no time to edit what you write, a key component of morning pages.
  3. Avoid distraction. When you work on your morning pages, you are dedicating a little time to self-care. Stay away from potential distractions. This includes other people, your phone, and your computer. Ambient music can be soothing, but don’t listen to talk radio or a podcast that can take your focus away from your journaling or influence what you write.
  4. Get comfortable. It will be easier to do morning pages if you’re comfortable. In fact, you’ll even start to look forward to this time of day. Find a cozy spot in your home, make a cup of coffee, find a pen that feels good in your hand, and use an inviting spiral-bound journal.
  5. Do it first thing. Morning is the optimal time of day for stream-of-consciousness daily practice. Your morning brain is fresh. Write your pages before you fill your head with any outside influences.
  6. Never read your journal. It might seem odd that you spend so much time writing something that you’re never supposed to look at, but the true purpose of morning pages is to transfer thoughts in order to clear your head. Put them on a shelf and don’t read them. But do make note of any entries you might want to use in your creative work.
  7. Be authentic. Never censor yourself when writing morning pages. Your journal entries need to be authentic in order to serve their purpose of raising self-awareness. If you are truly worried about someone finding your journals, destroy them.
  8. Throw writing rules out the window. Morning pages are not high art, and you’re not trying to write a bestseller. Morning pages are raw emotions and real thoughts. Don’t worry about following proper style and grammar.
  9. Fill up all three pages. You may find that some days you’ll find your creative flow and three pages will come easily. Other days writer’s block will get the best of you and you’ll have a hard time just writing enough for the first page. Whatever you do, don’t stop. Keep writing until all three pages are filled.
  10. Use writing prompts. It’s okay to use a few ideas as journaling prompts. Some basic ideas are positive affirmations, goals for the next year, and things you’re grateful for. Be careful not to make it focused on a single theme, like a gratitude journal. Use journal prompts to help you through the days when the words need some encouragement to come out.
  11. Realize there’s no wrong way. Morning pages are unique to every individual. There is no right or wrong way to do them. While freewriting is another variety of brainstorming on paper, that style usually consists of full sentences while morning pages can be unfinished thoughts. Content, style, and handwriting are irrelevant. Just accomplish those three pages and your job is done.
  12. Commit to writing morning pages. Make the practice of writing morning pages a daily ritual. Start by doing it for a single day. Then the next. Before you know it, morning pages will become a new habit. Create fun little incentives, like putting stickers on your calendar every day that you finish. Then, when you run out of pages, go out and get a new journal.


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