I had always heard about the benefits of journaling first thing every morning, but it wasn’t until I started reading the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron that I actually tried it. The book is written with the intention of helping artists get over their creative blocks. Part of the 12-week course is to write 3 pages first thing in the morning. You don’t plan anything, you just write. You’ll see, something special will happen, whether you are an “artist” or not.
Not convinced? Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love” wrote on Facebook “Just to show how influential it’s been to me—the first time I did the program, I had decided by the end of it that I wanted to 1) travel to Italy and learn Italian, 2) Go to an Ashram in India, and 3) Return to Indonesia to study with the old medicine man I’d once met there. We all know what THAT decision led to… Without ‘The Artist’s Way’, there would have been no ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.”
I know it sounds daunting when you first hear this, and you’re probably thinking “Who has the time?” But it only takes 20-30 minutes. There is something magical about putting pen to paper before you fully wake up.
Here are 5 benefits that I’ve discovered after making this a habit.
As the months have passed, my morning pages have developed a rhythm that usually starts with observing the weather. If the weather is good and I sit outside, I take note of the squirrels chasing each other. If it’s raining I notice the droplets hitting the window. I notice how the weather makes me feel. I notice if my coffee tastes good that day. If I’m emotional, I dive into it and it helps me identify my exact feelings. This is not just good for me as a writer, but it’s good for my mental health. It’s an integral part of my self-care because if I can’t identify how I’m feeling, how can I figure out how to fix it? Most of the time it passes once I write it down. The residual effect of noticing my surroundings is that I feel gratitude more often than before.
As I become more aware of my surroundings, and my own state, that act of observing feels so relaxing that it feels an active meditation. I write for 20-45 minutes every morning and in that time, my only job is to observe and write.
5. It will make you brave.
When I say patterns emerge, I don’t just mean negative patterns. Positive patterns arise. If you see that every day you are writing about your desire to take a certain trip, or get back to riding horses, or you really want to learn how to play piano; you’ll see that your true self will emerge and tell you what you need. After trying new things that pop up, you will get into the habit of experimenting. Maybe you will slowly gain the bravery it takes to try out the really big life changes you want to make.
But don’t take it from me. Pick up the book and try it yourself. What better way is there to spend your time than investing in your own happiness?