This is the story of how free-writing on a (nearly) daily basis changed my life.
Remember when I told you about how The Happiness Project turned me around for the better? Writing morning pages is the other component of it.
In early 2014, I was in a funk. I could only explain the phenomenon as “blah” and I felt blah-by. Yes, I totally made that word up. I self-diagnosed myself with burnout (after taking a few too many online psychology tests) and looked up resources on how to get out of it.
That’s where the concept of morning pages came in. The idea was developed by artist Julia Cameron and the basic idea is that you free-write whatever is in your stream of consciousness first thing in the morning for three pages. (more info on her website) This process is related to journaling, but also, totally different for me somehow. I had tried journaling on-and-off for years, and I could never keep up. I felt like nothing would live up to the beautiful notebook I tried to use. Or if I had a bad handwriting day, I felt it wasn’t worthy of the pretty notebook.
My approach to morning pages was different. I let myself use the cheapest notebooks in my collection. (Which are the generic notebooks I hoard for ten cents apiece during back-to-school season). I let myself use whatever pens I have lying around (nothing special). And I let myself use the messiest handwriting without any care. Using cheap supplies really helps get over the thought of “wasting” the good stuff.
Letting myself use ugly messy scrawly writing in cheap notebooks helped to clarify so many of the thoughts swirling in my head. I would write about the most mundane things that were on my mind, like if I was hungry, or what I planned to do that day, or what bothered me from the day before. Just the act of writing made me realize that I really am a creative and artistic and crafty person. These pages also are a place where I brainstorm and follow my ideas from one unrelated string to another. So many of my blog posts and project ideas get their start in those morning pages (even this one).
I’ve found that this is a habit that helps to calm me. Some days all I write is inspirational words to myself like: you can do this, keep going, just start, you’re making progress, stick with it. And it helps me to block out the noise of what’s going on out there in the world and really focus on my own motivation and ideas.