How This One Daily Practice Is Bringing Back My Sanity

This daily act of writing every morning ... morning pages ... is a way to connect with a soul that is too often quieted or overwhelmed by who I "should" be.

Have you ever had someone recommend something to you – a habit or a simple lifestyle adjustment or a different perspective. And you thought, this is a really good idea! I should try it sometime.

But you never do.

Maybe weeks or even years go by. Every once in a while the moment will float up to the top of your mind, and you think to yourself, I remember that! I should try it.

But you never do.

Obviously, I’m speaking from personal experience here. For years I have danced around the concept of morning pages, essentially a daily written brain dump on a certain number of pages or for a specific amount of time, but I have never actually regularly practiced it. I’m always too busy, or focused on writing perfectly or some other excellent excuse. (I have so many to choose from.)

I’m not sure what finally flipped the switch for me. I’ve spent the first half of this year slowly building self-care habits. I take vitamins and walks. I gave up sugar (again). I am sleeping more than I ever have in my life. I practice healthy communication (most of the time), allow necessary endings, read an endless stream of books on better mental health and soul care. One day I just decided, I’m going to add morning pages to the self-care routine and see where it takes us.

In the morning, before I do anything else besides pour a cup of coffee, I write three pages in my spiral notebook. I write the date at the top and go. I don’t make paragraphs. I don’t use good sentence structure. I don’t have an agenda or a focus, and no one is ever going to read a word I write in the notebook but me.

The results have been amazing. I’m literally writing my way back to sanity three pages at a time.

Stay with me here, I can hear your inner protests already. Of course, she’s writing her way back to sanity. She’s a writer! That’s a crazy strategy that would never work for me. I’m not making any promises for morning pages to change your world in thirty days. What I am suggesting is it’s possible your mind is like mine, so full of clutter and responsibilities and thoughts and old messages on repeat, and song lyrics we don’t remember learning, and memories and fears and ideas and the thousands of other things inside our heads, it’s possible your soul is buried so far underneath the junk you can’t hear it any more.

I know mine was. I forgot what my soul sounded like, felt like, looked like. I really didn’t know who I was at all.

So I started writing. Anything and everything. If it popped in my head it went down on paper, a daily jumble of whatever was uppermost in my mind. Sometimes no two sentences in the entire process connected together, and sometimes after the first three sentences, I would chase the same idea around the pages, line after line until my space was up. Then I put the notebook away. No editing. No explaining. No correcting.

Sometimes I felt silly, so I would write, I feel so silly doing this every day.
Sometimes my mind felt blank, so I would write, I can’t think of anything to write today. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

What surprised me after a few weeks was when an idea or belief would keep popping up, sometimes even daily, and when I looked at them, the patterns they made and the messages they were speaking, I realized there was my soul, peeking out, introducing herself to me again now that I finally made room for her voice.

Whether it’s trying to be what other people think we should be, or simply setting ourselves up with our own expectations, our souls can get lost underneath all the voices and identities layered over us through the years.

Morning pages have helped me clear away so much of the mental debris which builds up over time. They don’t solve problems or provide miracles, but they clear the way for those things to happen, or perhaps they simply make me more ready to respond to what was already there. Either way, for the price of a $3 notebook, I’m writing my way to sanity again, or at least as close as I’ll ever get.

Life has this crazy way of making it easy to forget who we are. But I'm finding myself.Click To Tweet
Dana Portwood
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Dana Portwood

Dana is a writer, book-a-holic, lover of dogs, tattoo addict, wanna be beach bum, hair color-er, a survivor of cancer, over the moon about being 40, and a sold out minimalist. She's madly in love with her husband of twenty years and crazy about (or maybe just crazy) raising three teenage daughters.She believes in the power of Love, the miracle of grace, and the strength of community.
Dana Portwood
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About Dana Portwood

Dana is a pastor’s wife and home schooling mom of three beautiful teens in middle Georgia. She’s passionate about women’s friendships, minimalism and being in the Word. You can find her on the MoJoy Blog (

  • Zoe Gregg

    I bought a new journal 2 weeks ago. A really special one and I still have yet to write a single word in it! SIGH!

  • heathertruett

    When I do morning pages, I am always glad I did. I need to do them again.