Morning Pages: the exercise that helped me rediscover my love for writing

Lize Deng
2 min readDec 20, 2023

You’ve probably heard of Morning Pages before, and if you’re anything like me, you might have dismissed it as being “wishy-washy”. After all, this technique was created by the same person who wrote, “As we move towards our dreams, we move towards our divinity.” But Morning Pages is worth a second look. Julia Cameron’s advice — three pages of long-hand, stream-of-consciousness, first-thing-in-the-morning writing — might be the key to overcoming writer’s block.

The first thing you need to know about Morning Pages is that it is not…writing. Instead, it’s spilling the contents of your brain out on a medium that happens to be pen and paper. And the timing is critical. Morning Pages are effective because you write down your thoughts before you are awake enough to filter and censor yourself. This is a time to jot down whatever is on your mind. And no, it does not have to make sense. Most importantly, under no circumstances should you edit your Morning Pages.

As writers, we do plenty of editing. By the time you read this article, it would have been through a dozen re-writes, re-edits, and re-views. Morning Pages is your opportunity to stop “re-ing” and just let it out.

The best thing about Morning Pages is that no one has to read it. In fact, I would discourage anyone from re-reading their Morning Pages. Once you finish writing, shove it in your basement and keep it under lock and key.

Too often, writer’s block comes from worrying about how others will respond to your writing. That’s a very valid concern; as writers, we write primarily for other people. But wouldn’t it be wonderful — for once — to write for ourselves? For writers who feel as though they have nothing to say, or those who feel crushed under the weight of expectation, the opportunity to write whatever you want first thing in the morning is liberating.

As with any writing exercise, the effects are not immediate. Initially, I had no idea what I wanted to say, and the mandate to fill three US-letter-size pages felt daunting and a little arbitrary. (It turns out that three pages are the ideal amount of introspective writing because “more than three pages invites self-obsession.”). But after a year and a half, I’ve found that Morning Pages improves writing in other parts of my life, too. I’ve gotten used to not overthinking putting words on paper. No more composing and re-composing sentences in my head and then forgetting what I would write altogether (we’ve all done that, or is it just me?).

The bottom line is this: let yourself write for the sake of putting pen to paper. Only when you learn to write for yourself can you genuinely write for others.

This article was originally published on students x students, a student-led publication that supports emerging young writers from around the world. Check out their writing here, or sign up for their monthly newsletter.

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Lize Deng

Aspiring writer and photojournalist. May (attempt) to discuss literature and visual art, but more likely to write about my experiences as I prepare for college!