One of my favorite topics to write about is a subject that I frequently struggle with: creativity. If you look at editorials of mine, such as “Ending Malaise” from the Apr/May 2019 issue or “The Joy of Being a Beginner” from the Sep/Oct 2020 issue, you'll see some of the techniques and concepts that I've deployed from time to time when trying to re-ignite my creativity. I believe that I may have found my “holy grail” of creative re-invigoration and it came from a rather unexpected place: a podcast. I discovered this new technique via a podcast called “The Moment,” which is hosted by a gentleman named Brian Kopplemen. Koppleman is best known as a screenwriter, producer, and director. As a matter of fact, he's is the co-screenwriter of my favorite poker movie, “Rounders.” He's also a damn fine podcaster.

I fondly recall my first time listening to the podcast as he interviewed Geddy Lee, the bass player and singer from the band Rush. I loved the style of his podcast and have been an avid listener ever since. One unique aspect of his podcast is the wide range of people that he interviews. Brian has interviewed former Netscape genius Mark Andreesen, marketing maven Seth Godin, and musician Richard Marx (which was a surprisingly awesome episode). Every week is unique and highly informative.

Having listened to this podcast for a bit over a year and a half, I began to take notice of a technique Brian kept bringing up that helps him to unlock (or unblock) his creativity. This technique is called Morning Pages. My initial assumption was that Morning Pages was a method of journaling. I couldn't have been more wrong. Morning Pages isn't journaling; Morning Pages is something entirely different.

Morning Pages is a tool created by Julia Cameron and is used to unlock your creativity daily. The concept is simple: every day, you write three long-hand pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. You do this as the first act of the day (after getting coffee of course; we're not savages). The writing is stream of conscience and can be about anything or nothing. The idea is to “blat” out whatever is on your mind to purge the cruft in your head, so you can become creative immediately. BTW, the pages you write for this exercise are throwaway and it should never be read again (seriously). It's not a tool of reflection, it's a tool of reinvigoration. Let me repeat: You should never look at the pages again.

My life changed on July 27, 2020. This is the first day I did Morning Pages, and my life has never been the same since. Really! As of this writing, I've been doing Morning Pages every day for four straight months with no interruption and I can say that they work. Now, I'm not a big proponent of holistic mumbo jumbo and things that require me to do them on a regular basis usually fail right out of the gate. This time, it was different.

If you follow my editorials, you'll know that I have a highly diverse set of interests. If you're new here, let me fill you in: l love movies, music, D&D, comic books, Legos, painting D&D and Warhammer minis, writing, and pretty much every avocation a full-fledged nerd might take on. Oh, I also love being a software engineer and that's a whole other avenue of creative release. My problem is that I frequently get blocked figuring out what creative endeavor to take on at any given time. A lot of times, the answer becomes “none of the above” as the blockage is complete. Not anymore! Morning Pages have provided me with a solution to fully unblocking myself daily.

The effects of Morning Pages were immediate and now, after four months, I find them remarkably consistent in their ability to unleash my creative energy. I started this process by purchasing Julia Cameron's book “The Artist's Way,” and read it over the 12 weeks it prescribes. I used it as a tool to better understand how these techniques work and to make sure I was getting the gist of the process. It seems like Julia was reading my mind in every chapter as she discussed the issues I was seeing during my Morning Pages. There are exercises you're supposed to perform as you progress through the process to help you gain a better understanding of self-doubt and how to move past it and become more creative.

So, here's what happened. Every day, I found myself invigorated and finally started making time for creative endeavors. I started blogging again (, started working on my own writing projects, and did simple activities like building puzzles (which I find calming yet highly frustrating, go figure). I also started a list of creative projects that I wanted to work on (see Figure 1). Each of these projects/activities ranged from complex (write a feature movie script) to simple (write a blog post, or read more magazine articles or books).

Figure 1: A page from my Morning Pages book
Figure 1: A page from my Morning Pages book

In any case, the creative beast has been unlocked and I've never been the same since. The main thing that's resulted from this is that I'm happier. Yes, happier. One idea is to use Morning Pages as a way to work out issues with life in general (read the book - it'll tell you).

Don't believe me? Okay, sceptics, here's what I'll do for a dozen of you. Shoot me a message on Twitter @rodpaddock and let me know that you want a copy of “The Artist's Way.” I'll ship one to you via Amazon (only in the US and Canada). The only request is that you agree to do the pages for a minimum of 30 days and report back to me how you're doing. Sound good? I really look forward to hearing from of you!