On 1. January 2021, I started writing 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness journaling a day. I haven’t missed a day since. That’s 663 days in a row: an inner dialogues of 1989 pages poured in to piles of journals.
Stream-of-consciousness journaling is also often called Morning Pages (a term coined by Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way“).
The idea is that you wake up in the morning and before you do anything else, take a journal and pen, and you start externalizing the voice talking to yourself in your head on the page.
You don’t stop to think about perfect phrasing (your inner voice never stops talking, either). In fact, you don’t lift your pen off the paper at all until you’ve filled 3 pages.
Shopping lists, to-dos, dreams, interactions, worries, fears, excitement, goals, friends, family, memories, ideas, goals,… whatever’s on your mind.
No poetry, no perfect prose, no structured sentences, no coherent insights – unless that’s what flows out of you.
No judgment either. You never even have to read this back.
Nothing but pure, unfiltered stream of consciousness.
This simple practice has transformed me.
Why write Morning Pages?
- The feeling of liberation once you’re able to relax your mind and channel your stream of consciousness. Like an athlete “in the zone”, your mind becomes one with the pen in your hand, and words flow from your head and heart onto the paper. Once you get it, writing 3 pages becomes easy – after all, your inner voice never shuts up.
- Intentionality. When I write them by hand, it seems to slow me down just enough to get in the zone, calm my racing thoughts and think more slowly and deliberately.
- Creative breakthroughs. You start by writing down everything on your mind in an unfiltered way, free of judgment and stress. Then, you start “sculpting away, day by day.
- Externalizing thought patterns, loops, destructive self-talk. Once they’re on the page, it’s hard to ignore the way you speak to yourself.
- Recognize recurring patterns and topics that come back over and over again.
Tips for success:
- Write 3 pages today. Not more, not less. But do it today. Cut yourself off when you reach 3 pages. Today. Repeat tomorrow.
- Don’t read your notes back. Don’t show them to anyone. You want this to be pure, raw, unfiltered stream of consciousness. This is not publication material, this is a representation of your messy internal dialogue.
- If you have a creative breakthrough or interesting idea while writing your Morning Pages, keep writing until the 3 pages are full; then make a separate note about the idea or insight you had.
- See it as a huge unpolished pile of thoughts with interesting connections; then use that to uncover interesting connections, good ideas that you can further develop. Good ideas and insights will be buried in a sea of fluff – and that’s fine. Volume matters. (again, sculpting away, day by day)
- Julia Cameron suggests writing your Morning Pages right after you get out of bed – before your ego wakes up.
Or don’t do any of the above and just write.
Write first thing tomorrow morning.
Don’t overthink it, just write.
Don’t read it back, just write.
Don’t worry about grammar, just write.
Then when you’re done, write some more.