In my 30s I’ve come to realize that many of the practices and principles of artists can and should be applied to business – and life, for that matter. I started my business in my 20s, and man, oh, man I wish I would have realized this sooner because I feel as though I would have been less hard on myself, I would have enjoyed my work more, and I would have gotten a helluva lot more done. But, hey, everything in its own time.
By far, one of the best practices has been Morning Pages from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. (If you’re familiar with morning pages, I encourage you to stick around because I include a few nuances that make morning pages extra practical and productive for us professional-types.)
This will help you problem solve anything, get clarity on anything, and set you up for success every day.
Big claims, huh?! Yeah. And I stand by them. This tool/practice/habit has had a ripple effect in every aspect of my life, including my business. If you start using this and only see a fraction of the benefits I’m experiencing, it’s well worth your time and energy.
What are Morning Pages?
Cameron’s Morning Pages guidelines are:
- 3 pages of longhand* stream of consciousness writing (I do 2 pages typed, for reasons I’ll share below.)
- They are done in the morning
- They are for YOUR EYES ONLY
As Cameron puts it, “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind.”
While you will make your Morning Pages process your own, here are some insights into how I – a business-owning, self-reflective, growth-oriented, efficiency-minded, service-providing consultant – use morning pages and apply it to my business.
Professional & Personal Benefits of Morning Pages
My goodness, the clarity!
Morning Pages is your personal safe space to process everything. In my morning pages, I ramble on and brainstorm through ideas for my marketing, products, speeches, client projects, … you name it. I find this safe space especially helpful to write drafts of emails I’m anxious about or think through conversations I’m anticipating.
Speaking of anxiety, this habit has been a life saver as I’ve had more anxiety these past few months than ever before (and who hasn’t?!). Morning Pages has helped me work through so much of my anxiety and resistance. In fact, I’ve found it easier to get clarity on why I’m resisting certain things and how to push through or work around those resistances.
At its core, I’ve found Morning Pages to be an active meditation. It is a morning detox. I sit down with my cup of coffee and clear my head of all the junk that’s cluttering my mind and keeping me from being productive and creative.
Cameron says that Morning Pages should be longhand. Personally, I more productivity and efficiency from typing my stream of consciousness Morning Pages.
Without fail, as I’m blathering on about something, ideas for my to-do list will pierce through the noise in my head. I keep my fingers typing and I just type the idea in my Pages. Next, I highlight the to-do item or mark it with a comment in the document. Then, I keep typing about whatever is on my mind.
At the end of my Pages entry, I quickly scan for highlights and comments, then copy and paste them in to my task management system – my personal preference is Trello. That way, more of my professional and personal tasks are ready to be sorted through an have deadlines attached.
It’s easy to find your creative mojo in Morning Pages. But you don’t want those brilliant ideas to go to waste. That’s why I have a “Brainstorm Board” in Trello.
The tasks that have a deadline so into the to-do list and ideas that need to be considered and clarified go into the brainstorm list and are sorted through later.
After a session in Pages, I know my game plan for the day and what needs to get done next.
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So much of my favorite content started in Morning Pages!
Make your Morning Pages your safe place to TRY. Test the waters. Just get the ball rolling. Next thing you know, you have a not-so-bad first draft to work from.
Productivity experts say that it’s helpful to anchor certain places with certain activities. Your bedroom is for sleeping. If you want a better night’s sleep, don’t bring your work to bed. Your desk is for work. If you want to be more productive, don’t watch TV or YouTube while at your desk. I’ve found a similar psychology applies to certain software applications as well.
If I open up my Gmail and try to draft an email, it feels heavier, more important, and stress inducing. If I open up a blank document to write a first draft of an article, I get writer’s block much easier. But if I open up good ol’ no-judgement-here Morning Pages, I can jump in faster – and it’s a bit more fun. So, when I feel stuck, I’ll even come to my Morning Pages document (in a Google Doc) during the day just to write the messiest, ugliest first draft possible. And then it starts to flesh out into something tangible, I’ll copy and paste it into the appropriate application for further editing.
In addition to being my morning meditation and mental detox, my Morning Pages document has also become my mid-day sandbox for creativity and getting around resistances.
How Long Do Morning Pages Take?
I typically hit the 2-page mark between 20-30 minutes.
And if I’m in flow, I’ll keep typing. But if I haven’t hit 2 pages yet and I have no idea what else to talk about, I just keep typing (usually, about how I’m out of ideas) until I reach the 2 page quota.
Practical Creativity for Influential Professionals
From Cameron’s perspective, morning pages help you take out the trash that’s gathering in your mind – blocking an artist from their creativity. But truly, all of us need to take out the trash. All of us non-artists need access to creativity, too.
Creativity makes you a better problem-solvers. Plus, if you’re someone who wears a lot of hats in your business, you have a lot of ideas in need of consideration, sorting, planning, and execution.
And you KNOW influential people are creative people! Influential people find creative ways to build rapport. Creative ways to communicate a problem or solution. Creative ways to create intrigue.
I hope that you, too, find Morning Pages to be a helpful habit for clarity in your thoughts, your message, and your strategy.
Influence Speaker & Coach
P.S. Join the FREE Influence Momentum 7-Day Challenge, starting soon! This challenge is designed for both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs who want to step-up their Thought Leadership marketing.
For 7 days, I will send you a voice message with:
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