• The Miracle of Morning Pages

    Title: The Miracle of Morning Pages

    Author: Julia Cameron

    Read In: 2023



    Favorite Quotes:


    First things first, every day, is a practice I call “Morning Pages.”

    The MPs, as I’ve nicknamed them, are three pages of longhand morning writing about anything and everything that crosses my mind. They appear to have nothing to do with creativity, yet they are the bedrock on which my creative life is built. They are the terra firma of my book The Artist’s Way and the central, life-changing tool that guides and safeguards creative emergence.

    To begin at the beginning, I am always asked, “Julia, must the Morning Pages be done in the morning?”

    “Yes,” I explain. “You are trying to catch yourself before your ego’s defenses are in place. You want to catch yourself as close to waking as you can.” We are after candor—that, and specificity. We want to know how you really feel about your life. Later in the day, you may officially feel “okay” about something that actually bothers you. Caught off guard, just upon awakening, you may feel angry, hurt, diminished As you vent on the page, you become intimate with yourself and your real feelings. Not only sorrows but joys become clear to you.

    Morning Pages may hold insights and intuitions that startle you. Typically, they puncture denial.

    If Morning Pages are a tough-love friend, nagging you about a pressing problem, they also point out joys. You might delight in something the pages help you to acknowledge. The pages may point the way to a treasured friendship, or lead you to a new art form. They may suggest the path you could cherish.

    Pages clarify our yearnings. They keep an eye on our goals. They may provoke us, coax us, comfort us, even cajole us, as well as prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. If we are drifting, the pages will point that out. They will point the way True North. Each morning, as we face the page, we meet ourselves. The pages give us a place to vent and a place to dream. They are intended for no eyes but our own.

    Virginia Wolfe asserted that “all artists need a room of their own.” I always think, “Fine, Virginia, if you can afford it.” It’s my contention that Morning Pages constitute such a room. They are a place of privacy. Show your MPs to no one, however intimate. For the first two months, don’t even re-read them yourself. If something is important, your Morning Pages will bring it up repeatedly, until you get the message and take an indicated action. Make no mistake: Morning Pages are about action. Unlike conventional meditation, which may lull you out of taking action, the pages magnify our discontent, pointing out actions we could take. The pages tend to point out our many choice points. We are egged on to increased honesty and candor. Our life becomes our own. We no longer sell ourselves out, giving our time and energy to others’ agendas. We have a choice whether to invest in others or ourselves. Investing in ourselves is novel for many of us.

    Although it may feel like we are going crazy, the truth is we are going sane.

    Small steps lead to large breakthroughs. A page at a time, a step at a time, you are led forward in the direction of your buried dreams. Excavated, brought to light, the dreams move you toward divinity. If you work on your creativity, you will grow spiritually. If you work on your spirituality, you will grow creatively. Creativity and spirituality are so close they are intertwined. We call God “the Creator” without realizing it is another word for “artist.” The Creator is the consummate artist. As we explore and express our artistry, we are imitating God.

    Morning Pages are a potent form of prayer. As we become more and more truthful, we become more truly ourselves. We become more and more original because we become clearly the origin that our work springs from. We become more bold—first on the page, next in our life.

    “I’ll just keep going” is a central lesson taught by Morning Pages. The pages may seem dull to you, even pointless, but they are not. Remember that they are not intended to be “art.” They pave the way for art. Each page you write is a small manifesto. You are declaring your freedom—freedom from your Censor, freedom from negativity in any quarter.

    Take heart: continue your pages. A rich and abundant life lies ahead of you. The pages tutor you in making the most of opportunities. You will face your creative U-turns and see how to gently take small steps to undo them.

    “Julia, if the last paragraph brings a breakthrough, can’t I keep on writing more than three pages?”

    No! To write more than three pages is to invite self-involvement and narcissism. The pages are therapeutic, and three pages is the ideal dose. Think of it like this: let us say you undertake therapy. The first session is a tremendous relief. Then, the wise therapist says, “Ill see you again in a week.” You may want to shriek, “But what about tomorrow?” But the skilled therapist wants you to have time to absorb the fruitful session. So it is with Morning Pages. They give us just the amount of insight that we can handle. They suggest doable next steps. They gently move us into action, but not into such large actions that we are overwhelmed

    Trust the prescription of three pages a day. The Artist’s Way has worked for nearly four million readers. Let it work for you just as it is designed.

    “Julia, I still don’t understand why the pages must be done in the morning. I write so much better at night.”

    Let me be clear: good writing is not the point. Think of your pages like a whisk broom. You stick the broom into all the corners of your consciousness. If you do this first thing in the morning, you are laying out your track for the day. Pages tell you of your priorities. With the pages in place first thing, you are much less likely to fall in with others agendas. Your day is your own to spend. You’ve claimed it. If you wait to write pages at night, you are reviewing a day that has already happened and that you are powerless to change.

    “Julia, do you still do Morning Pages?”

    Yes. For many years the pages have been my companion. They guide me and guard me. They have shaped my career and my personal life. They have heightened my intuition and advised me of my shortcomings. They have warned me of danger and they have led me to safety. I can’t imagine a life without them. It would be like driving at night with no headlights.

    For twenty-five years, I’ve written Morning Pages and urged others to try them. The evidence continues to mount that pages are potent. One student wrote pages and found herself moving from Los Angeles to the mountains. Another student in his mid-fifties enrolled for a master’s degree in poetry.

    I hear many such tales.

    “Morning Pages saw me through my mother’s death.”

    “Morning Pages saw me through a terrible divorce.”

    “Morning Pages led me to adopt a child.”

    “Morning Pages led me to composing.”

    As I write these pages on Morning Pages, I listen to a CD made by a student. The melodies are beautiful, and they are the fruit of Morning Pages. The note reads, “Julia, I hope you enjoy listening to this CD as much as I enjoyed making it.”

    “Enjoyment” may be the right word for the transformation that Morning Pages induce. No matter how dreary, sad, or angry we may be when we undertake pages, sooner or later we will realize that our pages contain many choice points. We see that we choose over and over how we will spend our day. Sooner or later, we will begin to make more satisfying choices. For example, “I have twenty minutes. Should I grab some time at the piano?”

    Day by day, pages tutor us. We learn to act in our own best interests. We stop being victims of circumstance. A choice at a time, we begin to craft a life that reflects our authentic values. Rather than sitting on the sidelines critiquing the game, we start to participate.

    Pages are excavation. As we clear away the rubble of our previous, unconscious life, we begin to encounter “paydirt.” We learn who we are and what we are. One of the first fruits of Morning Pages is a heightened sense of personal identity. You look with clearer eyes at yourself and the world around you. Slowly, a page at a time, your true self is revealed. You may feel a sense of wonder as your real identity becomes clear. Skepticism gives way to curiosity.

    “Who am I?” you ask, and the pages reveal the answer. As you become more clearly yourself, your relationships begin shifting. You no longer say “yes” when what you really want to say is “no.” You are starting to know—and speak—your mind. You may stand accused of being selfish. In the very best sense, this is accurate. Your true self is becoming more visible, less enmeshed in the desires and expectations of others. This can be frightening to you as well as others. It is pivotal that you treat yourself gently. As the pages strip away falsehoods, the newly exposed self is often vulnerable and raw. Take good care of yourself. Remember that “treating yourself like a precious object will make you strong.”

    “Julia, I’m not in the mood to write in the morning.”

    Mood doesn’t matter. You will do some of your best writing on the days when you don’t feel like it, when your Censor tells you that it’s just plain junk. The Morning Pages will teach you to stop judging and just write. So what if you’re tired, cranky, under stress? Write three pages. Your Morning Pages are food for your artist child. Just as you would feed a newborn baby, feed your artist child. You do this by writing your Morning Pages.

    Write three pages of absolutely anything. If you can’t think of what to write, write “I can’t think of what to write.” Keep writing until you have filled three pages. Three pages full of anything, anything at all.

    “But, Julia, my pages are nonsense.”

    Although our pages may seem like nonsense, they are performing a valuable function. They are getting us to the other side. The other side of what? The other side of our fear, our crankiness, our negativity. They get us past our Censor. Beyond our Censor, we reach our own voice. We reach a calm, centered voice, that is our Creator’s and our own. Some people conceive of Morning Pages as prayer. Others consider them meditation. I consider them both. They may not be the form of meditation you are accustomed to, but they are a valid form that will effect change in your life.

    Morning Pages may begin as prayer. We realize that we have contact with a force greater than we are. “Okay, God, this is what I like, this is what I don’t like, this is what I want more of, this is what I want less of.” Soon they will drift over to meditation, as we listen to the Higher Power’s insights and suggestions.

    Meditation gives us knowledge of our Higher Power’s will for us and the power to carry it out. We meditate to discover our rightful place in the scheme of things. This inner power has the ability to transform our outer world. In other words, Morning Pages give us not only the light of insight, but also the power necessary to effect positive change. It’s very difficult to write negatively about something day after day without being moved to action.

    “Julia, I quit my Morning Pages and my life fell apart. What should I do?”

    Start the pages again. They will always “work.” I have a colleague that I taught with for several years. Recently I asked him if he still wrote Morning Pages. His reply? “I write them whenever I get in trouble.” Hearing this, I thought, “If you wrote them all the time, you wouldn’t get in trouble.”

    Morning Pages are troubleshooters. They give us an early warning when trouble looms. They sharpen our self-protective instincts. Morning Pages make us better at our jobs. They improve the communication in our relationships. Let us say our lover is acting “funny.” Morning Pages will point this out and suggest a heart-to-heart talk. Morning Pages keep grievances from piling up. We learn to be current, first on the page, next in life.

    “Julia, your book changed my life,” I am often told. I reply, “You changed your life.” It is impossible to practice Morning Pages without changing your life. The changes may be dramatic, or they may be quite subtle. But change you will. If you’ve been a doormat for other people, you will begin to speak up. If you have been a hothead, you will begin to hold your tongue. Pages adjust you in just the way you need. I call this practice “spiritual chiropractic.” You are brought to a point of balance. You become healthier psychologically.

    “But, Julia, my pages are so negative. I’m afraid I’m encouraging negativity.”

    Stop worrying. As we ventilate the negative, we make room for the positive. Jungians call it “meeting the shadow.” I say it’s like meeting the shadow and taking it out for a cup of coffee. The pages listen to us as we gripe, grumble, complain, and kvetch. Nothing is too petty to mention. Eventually, a ray of optimism will pierce our haze of negativity. We will catch ourselves thinking “maybe I could try that” about a small risk. Risking, we begin to respect ourselves for our courage.

    Morning Pages ask us to have courage. When we do, they give us positive reinforcement. On an “off” day, we can still tell ourselves, “At least I did my pages.” Most days, we can count some small forward motion. Pages lead us to large changes by very small steps. Let us say we are led by our pages into trying our hand at a book. Pages will coax and cajole us through a first draft. Then they will help us to polish it. Next, they will suggest we try finding an agent, and will give us just enough courage to mail off the manuscript. With pages as our companion, we have enough self-worth to take actions on our own behalf. Pages are our mentor. They coach us along like a fighter.

    Morning Pages awaken our senses. Music is more thrilling. Colors are more vivid. We notice and record our place in the Universe. We pay attention to our responses. “Jack bores me silly,” we may write, and then resolve to spend less time with Jack. “Sondra fascinates me,” we wax happily, and decide to spend more time with Sondra. No longer numb to our reactions, we begin to shape a life more to our liking. As we become more honest with ourselves, we are able to be more honest with others. True intimacy is born. We encounter others authentically. No longer vague in our likes and dislikes, we are more colorful. Others are drawn to us as never before.

    Every morning, no matter how you feel, tell your pages how you feel. Think of your pages as a daily sign-in. Let them become a habit for you Allow yourself to be honest, and let honesty, too, become a habit.

    Write your pages daily and become open to their suggestions. Each day, you will make a small soupcon of progress. Maybe the pages will suggest you paint your bedroom. Maybe they will ask you to commit to twenty minutes daily at the piano. They might suggest you drink more water. Their comments will poke into every corner of your life. It is all for the good. Be willing to cooperate with their skillful mentoring. Allow yourself to believe a higher hand is helping you.

    I have burned four logs as I wrote. The fire is guttering low and the flute music is sounding its final bars. Tiger Lily has retreated to the bedroom and curled up there on a sheepskin throw. It’s past midnight, and I am winding down for the night. In the morning, I will do my pages.

  • Floor Sample

    Title: Floor Sample: A Creative Memoir

    Author: Julia Cameron

    Read In: 2023


    Purchase: Bookshop.org (affiliate link)

    Favorite Quotes:



  • Essays

    my emily dickinson year

    I’ve been calling 2021 my “Emily Dickinson year,” because I made the firm and intentional decision to be a loner and a homebody. I’ve been turning down dates, I haven’t gone out and made new friends, I’ve done very few “activities.” Basically, I’ve done nothing but sit at home.

    Please don’t misunderstand: my decision to “stay home” has nothing to do with the lockdown. I have exactly zero fucks to give to the government.

    But it was the quarantine orders that got my gears spinning around the concept of being at home, and wondering why so many people felt trapped there. Instead of fighting the system in a knee jerk reactionary way, I decided to go inward.

    If Emily Dickinson hardly left her home her entire life and could fill her head and heart with so much wonder on the small parcel of earth she inhabited—why couldn’t I do that for a year? Why couldn’t I, too, partake in “the spreading wide my narrow Hands to gather Paradise,” as she wrote in her poem, “I dwell in Possibility”?

    I didn’t quite have “become one of the greatest poets in American history” type expectations, but I did want to see what happened when I removed external stimuli and the “fear of missing out” from my body. It was a task that required much meditation and journaling, because external stimulation is an addiction and FOMO is a nervous system response.

    It’s crazy to be able to actually admit this, but after several months of this I genuinely don’t give a shit what other people are doing or what they think of me and my life. Not a defensive reaction, but a deep settledness in my bones. It feels like a superpower.

    I refer to last year as my V For Vendetta year. In an aesthetic sense, I did shave my head like Natalie Portman (although I was smiling giddily rather than crying). But on a deeper level, I felt like everything I thought I knew about life and the world had been stripped away. Everything opened up to me, layers at a time. Things are still opening up to me, but last year was my first fresh shock of “the world doesn’t work the way I assumed it did.” The head shaving was basically a physical marker to represent how different I felt inside, to represent the pivotal moment when I realized that losing everything wasn’t the end, but just the beginning of my new life.

    This year, things are quieter. I’ve come to peace with many things. Even the things I desire to change and am actively changing, I’m still at peace with their current states. I’ve given myself a healthy dose of peace, stillness, meditation, and journaling—and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

    Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, was an absolute game changer for me. I began to implement her morning pages back in November (three daily pages of handwritten stream of consciousness journaling). It was like I suddenly had an answer for every existential problem that came up. If I could only recommend one book for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

    Mediation was a huge thing for me too. Learning to shut off the live stream of thoughts, the barrage of information, the 24/7 movie screen. I came to realize that was the source of everything I needed. Nothing external is what makes up me as a human being. I don’t need to be fed constant entertainment via social media, movies, friends, events, hobbies. All I need is within me, if I’d give myself a goddamn minute to tap into it.

    And lastly just good old fashioned peace and quiet. Sitting in stillness in the desert of Nevada. The desert is a great place to sit in observation, because at first glance it comes across as lifeless. But the more you sit, the more you see. The desert is ablaze with life.

    I’d find a trail of ants and follow it, looking for where they ended and where they began. I’d watch a hummingbird  make a pass through the backyard flowers every afternoon until one day I realized I was a little bit in love with him. One day, after weeks of watching him, he flew right up to my face and hovered there for a second. I’d listen to the various bird sounds and I swear that one of them sounds like “AL-LY?” A high pitched timbre, the note rising at the end.  I watched the lizards sneak out of the flowers and bushes and crawl onto the warm pavement to do push-ups. I went on long walks, in the afternoon in the winter and at night when it started getting hot again. One hour, two hours, three hours in the desert. I’d walk and walk, marching to the mantra “solvitur ambulando.” Latin for “it is solved by walking.”

    And notes. Constant note taking. Filling notebooks and index cards. I finally began to develop my writing voice, finally began working on a couple books, writing poetry, looking to submit some things, started pursuing work as a freelance proofreader and editor.

    I experimented daily. I would find what worked and what didn’t, and I had a system for actually making these realizations. Quiet, peace, solitude, a practice in awareness, note-taking and journaling. Creating what I wanted bit by bit each day by figuring out what I wanted, what I didn’t want, and closing the gap between them.

    “. . . failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”
    —J. K. Rowling, 2008 Harvard commencement speech

    Sitting at home, opening my mind, and taking note of the daily changes in my heart and brain has made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I’m proud of who I am. My younger self would be in awe of me, and a bit intimidated. Some things are still in the works to fruition, but everything I’ve dreamed of for myself is coming to pass. Not even six months into my Emily Dickinson year, and she’s already changed my life. She knew something about living.

    The home (even living at your parents’ home at the age of 25) is a wildly expansive place, if you let it.

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