I was going to write about something different today.
As usual, I stumbled out of bed and wandered through my automated morning routine, eager to get to my Morning Pages as quickly as possible. According to my loose blog editorial calendar I had something else planned for today. On blog writing days I will often use my morning journal exercise as a way to brainstorm through that day’s post, so that was the plan.
Coffee brewed and diffuser spewing my favourite morning productivity blend*, I sat down with my beautiful pen and proceeded with my daily morning brain dump.
The kind of journaling approach I follow is called “Morning Pages”, inspired by Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. I wrote about my morning journaling habit in a previous post, “Journaling, and the Magic of the Third Page.” You may want to catch that one for some context.
Basically, every morning I sit my butt down and write 3 pages non-stop. Why?
*2 drops Peppermint, 2 drops Lime, 2 drops Niaouli or Rosemary
Creative people have busy minds
If you’re anything like me you live up in your brain a lot of the time. It drives me crazy when I have so many great ideas but I don’t know what to do with them.
One of the things I love about Morning Pages is the way it helps me deal with really complex problems. We can all go about our daily lives, fulfilling our obligations, but maybe there’s something that’s always in the back of your mind. That thing running in the background takes up precious mind space, vying for your attention under the surface.
When you show up regularly on the page and let your pen flow, things will keep coming up that you’ll want to deal with. You’ll get sick of writing about them all the time, and you’ll start to find ways to tackle them.
Here’s one example. When I first started my Morning Pages habit back in 2001 I wasn’t taking good care of myself. I felt sluggish and gross and heavy. Day after day I would complain about it. Finally one day I found myself writing, “Enough! I’m sick of writing about this!” I joined a weight-loss program and lost 30 pounds over the next year, and in the process improved my confidence.
It wasn’t just some magical switch that I flipped on that day. This was something that had been bothering me for a very long time, and I finally worked up the courage on the page to talk myself into making the changes. Would I have gotten to that point without journaling? Probably. But writing it down was the catalyst that finally pushed me into action.
Making the most of your Morning Pages
There are three key strategies that help you make the most of your Morning Pages.
- Write in the morning
- Keep your pen moving
- Don’t re-read them
Many creative people are not morning people. If this is you, you’ll need to figure out a morning routine that helps you protect your journaling habit. Not a morning person? Me neither. Try this post for some suggestions.
Morning writing helps you set up your day and puts you in a position to look forward. When you write at night you’re more likely to rehash things that happened that day. Some people prefer writing at night, and if that’s you, keep going!
Keeping your pen moving is so important. This is where the flow comes from. If you keep that pen moving and avoid stopping to craft what you’re saying you’re more likely to stumble upon the big breakthroughs.
As for re-reading the pages, don’t. Just don’t. That’s not what this is for. If you need a record of your day go look at your digital calendar. As soon as you trust that no one, not even you, will read the entries, you really let your ideas flow.
Journaling – The Third-Page Smackdown
Here’s what happened this morning.
Coffee brewed and diffuser spewing, as mentioned, I sat down with my beautiful pen and began to write. This morning what came up was my problem with playing small.
Is this you, too? Here’s me: I have lots of great ideas that never get put out into the world. I’m too busy trying to “do it right” that I don’t do it at all. It’s like I want people to find me and my work, but I’m defying them to do so.
Here’s what I mean, let’s get specific. I have an essential oils business, you all know that. I love educating about the oils and how to use them. How many of you have read a post and thought, “Oh, that’s a great suggestion! How can I get those oils?” Good luck, I don’t make it easy for you.
Well, I had a stellar flow going this morning, and when I got to the Third Page I started giving myself a good talking-to. What started that smackdown was, “What if I was talking to my best friend about how she doesn’t make it easy for people to buy her stuff? What would I tell her?” Well, I definitely told her.
“Karin, how can you help people if you don’t give them the tools they need?” “Stop hiding!” “You are not going to appeal to everyone!” “Some people won’t like you. That’s how it goes. Deal.” “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you have to something.” “If you’re not asking for the sale you don’t have a business, you have a hobby. You don’t have time for a hobby.”
“Put on your big-girl panties and start running your business like a business.”
Sometimes you come out of a great journaling session feeling transformed. This was one of those. I had such a good time lecturing myself that when I got to the bottom of the third page, I put down my pen and laughed out loud.
In my humble opinion this is what sets apart Morning Pages from many other kinds of journaling. All journaling is good journaling, and you do what’s right for you.
However, when you give yourself enough time and page space to really let go of your inner censor, this is when the Magic of the Third Page happens. Stuff comes out of your pen and onto the page faster than you can stop it, and very often it’s exactly what you need to hear. Sometimes it’s tough love, like what I gave myself today. Sometimes it’s solutions to problems, or a strategy to tackle something big.
This third-page magic is what keeps me getting up, morning after morning, even on weekends. Even when I’m not a morning person. It’s. So. Worth. It.
Well, through my Morning Pages I’m working on a little something for you. I’ve been talking to a lot of people about the challenges with morning routines when you’re not a morning person. There seems to be a lot of guilt and shame around people feeling they “should” be getting up before sunrise to do… whatever. I’m tired of my creative night owls feeling like there’s something wrong with them.
This keeps coming up in my pages and I’m starting to get sick of seeing it there. Stay tuned, something’s brewing. It make take some time to get it out there, because, well, I’m a little busy.
Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m sneaking this in at the bottom of a 1300-word post. Still playing small, but at least it’s progress. I kind of want to see what happens.
If you’re a creative night owl and would like to regain control of your mornings, I’d love to talk to you to find out more about your struggles and needs. Just send me a message and I’ll take it from there.
Also, in the spirit of getting tools into your hands, I’ve put together a cart for you with an easy morning diffuser blend and a great diffuser. The carts are completely customizable, and are based on product availability at the time of posting. If you want help with this send me a message! I’m so not salesy.