If you are creating art on a regular basis, you are going to get stuck. 

It’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. 

You are constantly facing failure on a regular basis. 

So how do you get unstuck? How do you keep things fresh?

One of the best ways is learning from others. 

One person I’ve learned a lot from is Brian Koppelman. He is a professional screenwriter and the host of The Moment podcast. He’s the real deal. Koppelman has always been a huge fan of this activity called Morning Pages.

Image courtesy of Jim Woods

Image courtesy of Jim Woods

After hearing Brian talk about this activity for the umpteenth time, I decided that something needed to change. I needed a creative boost.

I decided to give Morning Pages a shot.

I started writing on a yellow legal pad with a black Sharpie and realized that I was full of fear and negativity and had a lot of junk in my mind. A whole lot of resistance and lies. 

The negative thoughts and emotions started flowing out of my head. I had to be completely honest with myself. After the very first session, I was surprised at the emotion that poured onto the page.

After I finished the three pages, I felt reenergized. I had become a new person as this mental weight was lifted. 

I have been doing Morning Pages on a regular basis ever since. I still use yellow legal pads and black markers. If something is working really well, why change? 

Yesterday I went to the store to purchase those items, and I got a little bit excited. Morning Pages are a tool that helps me commit to being (and becoming) a healthier version of myself. Each legal pad is a commitment to creating more art. Each pack of markers reminds me that I’m a writer. 

After I do Morning Pages, I work on my novel. Morning Pages gets me warmed up and allows me to shake off the rust. When I’m done, several pages are covered in black ink, and I always feel better.

By the very nature of Morning Pages — since they are not to be shared and can be thrown away — this activity is a great remedy for any perfectionist tendencies. (That we all have if we are completely honest, right.)

Way Better Than Just Regular Journaling

The best thing about Morning Pages is that you can write whatever you want on them. You can use them as a way to become more self-aware and less stressed, even if you’re not a writer. Now I must confess I’ve journaled before in the past on my phone, but I never really got anything out of it. It felt like a chore, and I never enjoyed it. So I stopped doing it.

Did you catch that? I said, “I never got anything out of it.” This is really important. You’re not going to keep doing something that is not giving you any clear results or benefits. But if you do see a benefit, you’ll keep doing it. 

How To Get Started Today

I’m a big believer that what you get out of an activity is related to whatever you put into it. Morning Pages could change your life, just like it has mine. I sincerely hope it does. 

Here’s how to get started in just 3 simple steps:

  1. Figure out what tools you are going to use. For me, it’s the legal pad and marker. Maybe you would like to use a specific app on your phone like Evernote. Whatever tool you decide to use, stick with the same one.
  2. Decide to try Morning Pages out for 10 days. This gives you a real chance to try it out. 
  3. Pick a time when you are going to do it. Ideally, the first thing in the morning. If that doesn’t work for you, that’s fine — just pick a specific time and set a timer to remind yourself. 

That’s it. Try Morning Pages for 10 days with the same tool at the same time. This will allow you to give Morning Pages a real shot and for a new habit to develop. 

The Takeaway

 When I habit stack a mentally healthy habit (like Morning Pages) and then combine it with a physically healthy habit (like working out) that’s when I see the most growth. 

Wherever you are today, I would just like to encourage you to go for one “easy win” that you know you can do. 

Maybe it’s doing Morning Pages for five minutes or going for a walk out in the sunshine instead of staying indoors. Easy wins add up over time. As you do more and get more confident, you’ll get better. You’ll also grow more. Don’t give up. Keep doing what you can. You’ve got this. 

Jim Woods, an author, freelance writer and writing coach who loves helping others share and tell better stories.
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Jim Woods, an author, freelance writer and writing coach who loves helping others share and tell better stories.

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