mwotw morning pages

Morning Pages

My first job as a teenager was as a pool lifeguard, which is to say I was a glorified janitor (with a whistle and a tan).

Every morning, one of my tasks was to clean out the skimmer baskets at the sides of the pool.

There would be grass, bandaids, hair, leaves — all kinds of gunk in there. 

I’d throw it in the trash, and you know what? 

That meant all that gunk WASN’T in the pool. 

That’s what Morning Pages feel like to me.

Skimmer baskets for my mind. 


Ok, so what are Morning Pages?

This is a practice I learned back in 2005 from the classic, absolutely wonderful book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

It’s super simple: Every morning, open a notebook, and puke out 3 pages of whatever dross is in your head.

The key is quantity, not quality.

Keep your pen moving.

Don’t know what to write? 

Keep writing “I don’t know what to write” or some such until something else comes through.

Like a swimming pool, our mind collects gunk throughout the day.

If we want to be clear and creative, we need to give it a place to go.


Here’s some of what Julia Cameron herself says about what she calls this  “apparently pointless process”:

“When people ask, ‘Why do we write morning pages?’ I joke, ‘To get to the other side.’ 

They think I am kidding, but I’m not. 

Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, our negativity, of our moods. 

Above all, they get us beyond our Censor. 

Beyond the reach of the Censor’s babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own….

The pages are a pathway to a strong and clear sense of self. 

They are a trail that we follow into our own interior…. 

Anyone who faithfully writes morning pages will be led to a connection with a source of wisdom within. 

When I am stuck with a painful situation or problem that I don’t think I know how to handle, I will go to the pages and ask for guidance.”

After nearly 20 years of using this practice, all I can say is: Preach, sister.


I like writing my Morning Pages in cheap composition books, nothing too fancy. 

(I have stacks and stacks of them in closets at this point.)

I like using a nice pen that feels good in my hand and on the page. 

(But not too nice, because if you do this regularly, you will use up lots of pens).

I generally try to write my pages in the morning, but not absolutely first thing, because I get too sleepy.

And if I don’t get to it until later, so be it.

For a while I made a rule that if I missed a day, I’d write 6 pages the next day. 

If I missed 2 days, then I owed myself 9 pages.

These days, I don’t have rules like that.

Just decades of experience in seeing how my mood shifts, how I meet my own heart, how I like who I am better when I clean my skimmer baskets every morning. 

Want to unlock a whole different world for yourself?

Try this for 8 weeks and let’s talk.

Devotedly yours,

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This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.

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