November 19, 2013 § Leave a comment
April 25, 2011 § 6 Comments
——– by Nicky Hajal
For years I’ve wanted to write daily but been unable to. The proof is 5 or 6 journals filled with just a single entry.
Then, I came across Morning pages in The Artists’ Way, by Julia Cameron. The idea is to wake up and immediately write three pages about anything, simply transcribing your thoughts.
Their purpose is not to be shared with others or even reread by yourself but simply to create awareness and to free your mind of all the chatter.
They work incredibly well and have had a huge impact on me since I started consistently writing in December.
I know you have a ton of things to accomplish and I want you to accomplish them. That’s why I want you to write morning pages.
But before I go into the how of getting into morning pages (next post) I want to go more deeply into the why.
1. Slice Through Brain Loops
Have you noticed that when something is on your mind you seem to go over it again and again and again? You think through the same dreaded scenario over and over and just can’t shake it off. On the contrary, each go around reinforces the pattern.
I call these brain loops and they’re devastating to actually accomplishing important tasks. They’re energy being spent, taking you no where – like revving a car while it’s still in park.
I can’t explain it but the moment you take a thought and type it out, it simply feels wrong to loop through that thought process again. Your brain moves onto other things, either probing further into whatever that loop was about or considering more important subjects.
This is probably the most important aspect of writing morning pages. You allow your brain to cut through all those wasted cycles and make actual use of its processing power.
2. Identify What’s Most Important – Everyday
Ordinarily, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and lose sight of what’s most important to you.
But writing morning pages, once you cut through all the brain loops, you’ll naturally be drawn to whatever is most important.
This means you can’t hide from the important things, ever. You may choose to do something else with your time, but it’s guaranteed that you’ll at least be face to face with what’s most important to you once a day, everyday.
3. Gain Perspective Over Events
The odd thing about getting your thoughts out of your mind and reflecting on them in writing is that you end up internalizing them even more. You’re able to ask yourself questions and approach situations from multiple angles. You acknowledge more of what’s going on and understand events in a deeper way.
As a consequence of this, you stay connected to things that have happened to you in a way you often don’t otherwise. This gives you more perspective in general about circumstances in life.
You remember the last time you were worried about a situation like the one you’re writing about now. You recognize the perspective you now have on the previous one and translate it to the current issue.
You may even go back and skim through the MP you wrote back then and notice the that many of your fears fizzled out and you dealt with the ones that didn’t.
Morning pages allow every experience to better you. They are a mental and emotional investment that compound over time, paying off many times over.
4. Keep Your Projects on Track
Free-flowing morning pages are the perfect form for this type of reflective writing. They keep me actively thinking and deciding each step of the way and allow me to handle the barrage of unexpected events that threaten any endeavor. They have become an absolute core necessity of my creative process.
Morning pages are for people that want to accomplish something.
5. Anchor New Habits
The nice thing about morning pages is that there’s really no barrier to get started – it’s an easy habit to set.
You open up any text editor or take out a piece of paper and just write the first words that come to mind. Then you keep going.
Soon, it becomes weird to not wake up and write – it’s no big deal.
The awesome thing is that you can then leverage that daily habit and use it as an anchor for new ones.
For awhile I’ve been enamoured by break dancers. It seems magical and I want to be able to do it. Whether I ever get there is yet to be seen, but I know that I am simply not flexible enough for it right now. So, every morning just as I’m about to start writing, I think “Oh, I’ll do some stretches first.”
A random habit that would have ordinarily been frustrating and difficult for me to obtain just got a lot easier.
I hope this article has passed that excitement onto you and that you use it to get writing –right now.
Don’t just read, take action!
- Take out a piece of paper or open up a text-editor and just start writing!
- Get an account at http://750words.com and see if you like that format for morning pages – I hear many do.
- Come up with a list of reasons why *you* want to start writing morning pages. What do you hope to gain from them. Keep them private or help others by posting them in the comments.
April 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
——— by Nicky Hajal
You’re reading this on a computer which tells me 2 things: you’re literate and you have a computer. That’s enough to know for sure that you, and many people like you, have what it takes to write morning pages every day.
And yet, very few do.
I was one of the people that wanted to write everyday for years and never could. Then, something clicked in me 6 months ago. Since, I’ve written just about 200,000 words.
In the beginning I was spotty, once missing nearly 3 weeks of writing. But, over time I set strong precedents and got increasingly consistent. Now, I know I will only miss a morning page if I choose to. And, I haven’t since May 2nd – exactly 2 months ago.
Not too shabby for someone who averaged one page a year before December.
So what the hell happened? What made it possible for me to cut the crap and just get writing?
Hopefully this doesn’t come off the wrong way, but my guiding mantra to getting into morning pages was: “Who cares?”
If I’m writing everyday, who cares about length, punctuation, the software I’m using or anything else my brain comes up with to make me second guess my progress? Not me. Morning pages are just for writing, that is it.
Our brains love to criticize. But morning pages are not about that. If you’re writing and reflecting, you’re doing all you need to.
Don’t reread your posts
This is not a journal. It’s a time to get everything in your head, out of your head. It’s a time to just get writing and shake your thoughts around. It’s about playing in the present with the state of your mind now.
In the past, when I started journaling, I would write each entry thinking about what my future self would think about when he reread it. This means I was never just purely accepting how I was feeling in the moment and getting that down – I was projecting my future thoughts onto my current ones.
That would lead to being over critical about my writing and I’d lose interest.
Knowing going into morning pages that I was never planning on re-reading them made it much easier to get down to business.
The reality is that when you write several hundred words everyday, there is no way you’re going to go back and read through all those pages and pages of thoughts.
Commit to not even taking a glance at your old pages for at least a full month, until you’re in the habit of writing daily. Then you’ll have so much written that it’s impractical to anyway (every once in awhile these days, I do skim through a few but really can’t imagine re-reading even one in its entirety).
Spelling? Grammar? Who cares.
Since you, and everyone else, will never be reading these who the hell cares about spelling or grammar or paragraphs or a consistent message and flow?
All of these things have kept me from writing everyday in the past and it is absolutely insane for them to! Who cares?!
I usually type morning pages with my eyes closed. When I open them what I see is one huge block of text, bleeding with red spell-correcter underlines. Works for me!
Length is as big a deal as you make it
In the Artists’ Way, where the idea of Morning Pages originates, Julia Cameron suggests writing 3 pages a day. I say: who cares? If you only can get out 150 words, that is so much better than none.
Don’t get me wrong, having a word count to shoot for is really important. But this post is about building the habit. And to build the habit, you can’t beat yourself up over a failed attempt.
Anytime you’re building a habit, you’re really getting in the habit of making attempts. Over time, your attempts get better.
As soon as you drop some of your existing beliefs about how hard or easy it is to write, you just start cruising and word counts don’t matter anyway.
Some really poor math led me to convert the 3 pages in the artists way to a writing goal of 1600 words typed out. I didn’t really think about it at the time and just hacked away at that goal until I was hitting it consistently.
I’m glad I made that mistake, though, because it showed me that writing just is not hard (writing well is hard, but morning pages aren’t that).
Forget the Morning Part
When communicating to myself, I actually call them MPs instead of morning pages because for a long time I wasn’t able to get my ass in gear to write in the morning. I felt stupid calling them morning pages.
But, I was writing and that’s the part that mattered.
Eventually, I did get to writing consistently in the morning – it’s nice, but hard to notice if much better than writing at any other time of the day.
The past week I’ve been splitting my morning pages in half and writing when I wake up and before bed. So far, being able to clear my mind at both of those times has been pretty excellent.
Write when it works for you and play with different times as you get consistent.
“What if I miss a day?”
Everybody misses a day. Don’t make this more than it is.
Morning pages are an incredibly powerful tool for people trying to accomplish ambitious goals. Even better, they are totally free and totally accessible. I can’t understand why anyone would not opt to not take some time everyday to write them.
And yet I can because it evaded me for so long.
It always takes some mental wrangling to pick up a new habit no matter how available. So, be specific about what exactly you’re trying to achieve: the ability to write your thoughts everyday.
Allow all else to be secondary. If it isn’t helping you simply write your thoughts everyday, who cares?