There are weeks when writing is hard. I just had one of them. Illness, deadlines, and distractions all got in the way, and I didn’t write. Although, strictly speaking this isn’t true. I always write something, it just might not be a blog post. In this past week I have written a job application (not my favourite kind of writing) and I have written in my journal. It is the one thing I manage to do almost every day of the year.
I try to follow Julia Cameron’s rule of three handwritten pages first thing in the morning. When time is tight, I will write one page rather than not write at all. As my friend Kellie likes to remind me, ‘done is better than perfect.’ When I write longhand, words flow from my pen as if my right hand was connected to my thoughts. Sometimes when I read a sentence back, I notice that I have written the first part of a word and finished it with the next one. It is fast, unedited, stream of consciousness writing.
Most of the time, my scribbles are not worth reading. They chronicle mundanities of life, sometimes strange dreams and on rare occasions, I might get some insight. Still, I persist. As Julia Cameron suggests, morning pages are for my eyes only and they are not meant to be creative writing but a way to clear the mind.
Weeks go by when I think that the morning pages have done nothing at all for me. Then I realise that getting those initial thoughts out of my system allow me to face the day without ‘stuff’ circling in my mind. I can leave all those thoughts in the journal. It is like having a container for loose change, only that in this case the container holds loose thoughts.
Every now and again, a solution to a problem presents itself in the pages. Granted, it doesn’t happen often. These are like little nuggets of gold that are left behind when all the dirt has been washed away. I can’t expect to find a nugget every day but when I do, I know that the process has worked its charm.
It takes me about fifteen minutes in the morning to write three pages. I don’t use prompts. I simply pick up the pen, put it to paper and let it glide across the page. I enter an almost a meditative state where I watch the pen do its work. I sit with a cup of tea, write, sip, write some more and finally close the journal. I rarely read what I have written, although it can be useful to go back after a few months and get a sense of how things have shifted.
I recommend the habit of morning pages. They allow you to clear away the cobwebs and start the day unburdened. You might find it the most worthwhile fifteen minutes of your day.