Lessons Learned From Julia Camerons “Artist’s Way Morning Pages”

Lessons Learned from Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”

Discipline

It takes willpower and discipline to wake up every morning early enough to write three hand-written long-form style pages each morning. It takes anywhere from 45–60 minutes on most days (sometimes more).

In order to do this productively I would; wake up at 5AM, drink a bottle of water, wash my face, brush my teeth, make my bed, write my 5 minute journal, make a cup of coffee or tea, do 10 push ups(at a minimum), stretch for 5–10 minutes, and then sit down to write.

With ambient sounds or acoustic music playing, I would gently flow into the art of writing my three lovely, sometimes irksome, morning pages.

The act of waking up early and focusing on important areas of my life has been and remains key to my joy each day.

I Can Write

Thanks, Jeff Goins. Check out his book, “You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One).

I wrote for years without much intention or purpose. A lot of which for personal growth, reflection, and education. It helps me find meaning in business, books, relationships, and life.

Then I started freelance writing and realized I had a LOT to learn. Grammar, copywriting, print, advertisements, email marketing; the list goes on and on.

I’ve written well over 400,000 words (maybe more, maybe less) this year which is an accomplishment I’m rather proud of.’

Much of this has been from my daily habit of writing. Thank you morning pages for the confidence to call myself a writer.

Enhanced Creativity

I never thought I was creative even though I always craved creation.

I enjoyed art, liked poetry, loved the design, and was a passionate writer. The problem was my lack of education to make things of my own.

Morning pages expanded my curiosity, creative capabilities, interests, and most importantly understand myself.

Use morning pages to plan your day, settle your emotions, think of new ways to work on relationships in your life, identify skills to work on, and unleash the power of your creative mind.

Be creative with your writing. Don’t judge your own work. Let yourself break the rules and do things against what you were taught in school.

Try writing in cursive, different sizes, do a bit of drawing, make lists, set goals, and anything else you can think of.

Try New Things

One of the best parts of the morning pages experience is the infamous “artist date”. An individual 2-hour exploration of a creative interest of your desire.

This can be a drawing class, yoga, meditation, painting, acting, a tour of a local attraction; anything you love to do and that will inspire creativity and new ideas.

Cameron says this is the most important aspect of rediscovering your creative interests. The only way to find comfort in creativity is to try new things.

The best artist date for me this summer was a chance to be on TV! I made it!

I appeared in several episodes of Good Behavior, a TNT show, as a club patron and pedestrian!

This was by far my favorite experience of the year and something I will be grateful for and remember for the rest of my life.

If you are interested in expanding your curiosity, creativity, or maybe you want a unique way to discover more about yourself; check out Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way!

Follow me on my blog or find more of my writing on Medium!

The pressures of Social Media (Overcoming the stimulation of checking your phone) – How to get back to reality!

Why are we all addicted to social media?

Is it the stimulation of technology that we require the constant ‘high’ from scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others? I want to engage in more deep, meaningful conversations to enhance the quality of life in those around us. Not spend them constantly and quite frankly rudely interrupted by social media, email and more. Don’t get me wrong, they are important and have their place, but knowing that place is vital.

Use social media with discipline!

Social media has completely transformed the world as we know it. Our days are overtaken by the countless time spent on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, only to name a few. I say overtaken because maybe you are like me. Maybe you are puzzled at the lack of interaction in our daily lives. Maybe it’s the lack of engagement in people to have a meaningful discussion. What bothers me most (and probably you too) is when in the middle of a conversation with family, friends or colleagues is that their phone seems to get all the attention. Have you ever had someone check their phone and completely ignore you, right in the middle of a discussion? Why are people so preoccupied with the lives of others on social media? So much so to neglect the human interaction and relationships right in front of them. This seems to be a trend that most are unhappy about. It’s time we take control of the precious time of our lives we spend on social media and focus on what we can actually control. Our time. So what can we do? Let’s start with listening to each other more!

What does your morning look like?

How many of you wake up each morning and mindlessly swipe through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and then watch everything your friends were doing on Snapchat from the day before? Be honest. This is important. I use to be this person until I realized the impact it was having on my life.

I ask this because I found myself in the same predicament. I began each day focused on the lives of other people instead of myself. What they were doing, who they were with, the things they have, people they know, you get the point. If you were to transition that energy towards yourself and what you wanted, who you wanted in your life, where you wanted to live, and what you wanted to accomplish, you’d be impressed with the results. To start and end each day staring a screen, disengaging from reality, and focusing on other people’s lives is no way to achieve your dreams and spend your time.

Enough is enough!

I woke up three months ago and gave myself a reality check. I told myself that it was time to go on an information diet and start reading and writing every day. The results have been immeasurably positive. I replaced my morning rituals of social media and hitting the snooze button with exercise, reading, and writing. This usually includes audio books depending on the day, journaling and reading books of quality substance. Nightly reading/writing as well to decompress from the day and recall all of the amazing experiences that had occurred. I am a firm believer that being proactive is critical to each of these habits for the day to be a success. Be proactive on your day, wake up early, and focus on what is important in your life!

What we feed our minds deeply impacts our lives. How we feel emotionally and the state we live in each day is affected by what we put into our bodies (physically, mentally and spiritually). I started researching ways to discipline my time and increase productivity to take control of my bad habits. We are lucky to wake up each day and have another opportunity for life. Instead of using my precious mental capacity for mostly useless information, I changed my life. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, jealousy, envy, regret, and more were affecting my life and I was blind to this. I realized that my actions each day were not only having a large impact on my personal happiness but the happiness of those around me. To all those affected, my bad. I won’t let it happen again!

Here are five tips that help me overcome the negative impact of social media, “win my mornings” and most importantly win back my time.

How I stopped occupying my precious brain capacity with mental activity on social media that added little substance of my existence:

Turn off social media notifications

  • Eliminate the need or temptation of social media triggers by turning off all notifications that would cause you anxiety. If you don’t see them immediately, you’ll be less tempted to check them.
  • Schedule specific time throughout the day that is scheduled for social media. This can be to make your posts, respond to others, share with your friends, or take a break from work. Limit this to as few time-blocks as possible to increase efficiency.
  • How to turn off notifications for Android
  • How to manage iPhone notifications

What are the benefits you think this could have in your life? Are you willing to try it?

Place your phone/alarm across the room

  • Force yourself out of bed. Don’t give yourself the chance to roll over and hit that damn snooze button.
  • This will stimulate your nervous system and allow your body and mind to start working together to get your day started.
  • Resist the temptation of checking social media and convince yourself it can wait. You won’t regret waiting. You’re not missing anything at 5-6AM when the rest of the world is sleeping.
  • Here are some biological reasons and analysis summarizing why the snooze button could be ruining your sleep.

Have you tried this before? How has it helped you to be more proactive in your life?

Why I stopped listening to music in the morning

  • For me, music was similar to social media in the way it was affecting my mental capacity. Try listening to Audible books instead to start the day feeding your mind with valuable information. If some noise is required early in the morning it’s fine, but I sometimes will leave my phone behind during my morning workout or listen to a meditation playlist that helps keep the mental stimulation to a minimum.
  • An alternative completely is trying to exercise or workout without any headphones or noise at all. This varies day to day for me. Some days I want some noise, others nature will handle it quite well for me.

What do you listen to during your morning rituals? Does music distract you? Is there a connection between headphones, music, and energy in the morning?

Meditation/Breathing Exercises

  • 5-10 minutes of either lying or seated meditation. Still, with no social media connection, I allow my mind and body to be present and aware of all pain, stress, anxiety, aches and relax
    • I highly recommend meditation for anyone who is considering it but hasn’t tried. Headspace and Calm are great for beginners.
  • If you are unsure of meditation, check out Wim Hof and his incredible breathing exercises. I do this every morning before I workout and it has helped me consistently run further with less struggle early in the morning.
  • 10-15 minutes of yoga can also be a good way to relax, stretch out your muscles and quiet the mind.
  • Allow your mind to be present and think about the important things for the day and the priorities in your life. This is a good time for thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.

How have yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises helped your morning routine? Which do you find best prepare your body and mind for the day?

Morning Pages or 5MJ – Thank you, Tim Ferriss, this is my favorite part of the day.

  • The first three hours of the day are claimed to be the best and most productive of the entire day. Focus on what you are most hoping to accomplish in your future and how you are going to do it!
  • This is a great time to express gratitude and understand how lucky we are. We can achieve our greatest desires in life by focusing on what is vital to our purpose in life.
  • Ask yourself questions. What do you want out of the day? What are you grateful for? What would make today a success? Are you going to give today your best possible effort?

What you focus on, you become. Focus on your greatest desires in life and cultivate the ability to think big. Think about your life, don’t daydream about other people’s lives. Visualize what you want your life to look like. Where do you want to live? Who do you want in your life? What do you want to have? This way you can start your day with an increasingly more clear picture of how you are going to accomplish your goals and become the best possible person you are destined to be. To achieve the things you desire most in the one life we are lucky to have.

Do you journal now? How has this helped your life? What do you write about that others may benefit from?

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We are all far to overtaken by social media stimulation. It is just as much of a habit as is brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on your shoes or anything else. These are not always good habits as we’ve come to learn. What I do is schedule time for checking emails (2-3 times a day) as well as social media outlets for a set amount of time, depending on the level of engagement necessary. Typically after my morning routine to make sure I’m not missing any important business connections, messages, or important commitments that require my attention. For more science and extensive research on habits, I highly recommend everyone either read or listen to “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg. It will help you understand why humans do exactly what we do not only in life but in business as well. It will certainly not disappoint.

How can I improve?

I hope you enjoyed my post and found valuable information here!

Any questions, advice, topic suggestions, or feedback please comment below! I will be posting weekly on Thursdays’ with a new topic that may help guide us through life sharing my experiences along the way. Feel free to add me on all media outlets to follow my journey and subscribe to be notified of my weekly updates!

Appreciation or Lack Thereof

Reluctant is not a strong enough way to describe my initial thought on listening to Audible. To begin listening to books was a foreign thing to me and I was unsure if I would retain the content in a way that would be of value. Admittedly, this was truly a mistake. I have since found immense value and appreciation for Audible books when I choose the right content for me. I’ve listened to quite a few so far, but one sticks out drastically more than others and that is: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, by Dale Carnegie. Listening to this book narrated by Andrew MacMillan engages you through detailed stories and inspiration content. If you have never read or listened to his book I highly recommend it. This book has exponentially changed the direction of my life, specifically to show more appreciation for each day I get to thrive.

An example of this came clear to me yesterday. I found myself at the grocer in Boston after a long day of work. Mentally and physically drained from a remarkably productive day. I was mindlessly walking around the store to find some meals to hold me over for a few days. Chicken, Eggs, Greek Yogurt, Veggies you know, the good stuff to keep me running on all cylinders. As I approached the checkout counter this gentleman seemed in a daze. He appeared as a zombie merely checking and bagging groceries with very little stimulation. I approached him with a smile asking for his name as it was blocked by his apron. He looked at me, smiled and says “I’m Chris”, in a stunned voice. Then only proceeding to stop everything he was doing to reach out and shake my hand. It took him a second to almost remember his own name with a stare like that of a zombie. Christian was his full name, I said: “Christian I am Matt, it is great to meet you and I appreciate you helping me out with my groceries today.” He was an older gentleman and you could tell he was impressed. I proceeded to ask Christian how many folks had asked of his name or called him by his name that day. Must I even need to tell you the result? I was in disbelief as well. Not one person that he could recall had called him by his name that was on his shirt all day long. A very busy grocery store that been working at all day and must have interacted with at least 100 people. As I left him, thanking him again and wishing him a great evening. As I left, the gratification came from my peering over my shoulder only to see him smiling and chatting with his next customer. What joy.

The message I’m hoping to accomplish here is that maybe one more out of the hundreds of customers recognizes that a simple outreach and genuine conversation can leave a long-term lasting impact on that person.  A sign of respect. In my studies of success and psychology, I’ve developed extensive people skills’ and from this book I felt it was time to get my words out there. This helps me apply the things I’ve learned from minds far greater than my own. You could apply these same tactics as well. We all have potential in things that we are unaware of and this ability goes untapped due to lack of appreciation for the small victories in life. Moral of my story, appreciate more people and take chances on things you may be a bit uncomfortable diving into. It took a boost of confidence and dedication to start listening to a book, let alone start reading books again. They have changed my outlook and direction in life dramatically. So maybe if you start appreciating the little things in life, your mission and purpose may start clarifying to live a happier more successful life.