Morning Pages July 30, 2016
One of the items in my "catalog of curiosity" is to do Morning Pages every day for a month (or was it for 30 days?) and I've been doing them since July 1. I'm going to post today's pages when I get a chance to scan them -- you are invited to read through to the end of the three handwritten pages, but this isn't organized like a regular blog post, so I imagine it won't be everyone's cup of tea.
Morning pages is supposed to be an exercise for writers or would-be writers. I believe the idea is that by putting some words on the page first thing, you are limbered up and less prone to writer's block later in the day. You are supposed to write three longhand pages every morning as part of your morning routine -- maybe before everything else, but certainly before the main portion of the day gets started, such as before work if you have a 9-5 job. Many people have adopted it to write on a computer (although Morning Pages is in many respects a form of journaling, and there are plenty of purists who believe you can't have as meaningful a reflective experience typing as you can writing on paper, in part because handwriting something slows most people down). There's at least one website out there which counts your words as you type and lets you know when you have hit 750 -- many people use that as the number that's supposed to be equivalent to the number of words in an average person's three handwritten pages.
My process is a hybrid. On weekends, I like to handwrite, because I do find it personally more relaxing. I am a bit of a longhand-drafts enthusiast -- I've even written drafts of blog posts or emails longhand, which some of my friends find normal and others find truly bizarre. On weekdays before work, I prefer speed of writing and easy access to a timer, so I use the computer. I have a separate document for each day, titled with the date, all in a folder. I use Google's built-in timer -- I just search "15 minute timer" (or 12 minutes, or 20) and let it run. I prefer writing for a set length of time, adding more time if I haven't hit 750 words, over using something that will alert me when I hit my word count, because it helps keep the schedule of my morning on track.
For the first several days of the month, I tried to get up early to write. I had a few writing buddies who also wanted to write in the early morning, so we did "virtual write-ins." A write-in is a concept from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and it's basically keeping each other company while writing, so we stay accountable in setting aside the time. We picked 6:30 in the morning -- I usually wake up around 7 and get up around 7:30. So, I bought myself some green tea I like to help me wake up smoothly, and started setting my alarm for 6, so I could be up and moderately functional by 6:30. We would chat online a bit, then do "sprints" of 10 or 20 minutes where minutes where we did nothing but write. It was easy to hit my word count with one or two sprints, but hard to adjust my sleep schedule; if I went to bed an hour early, I just lay awake. Remarkably, I was the last of our little bunch to drop the early morning thing. Now I get up about 15 minutes early and make sure to write efficiently.
Morning pages has been really helpful to me and feels great, so I'm not stopping at my "one-month trial." It's on my blog list as a writing exercise, but like a number of other Morning Pages devotees, I find it more useful as a self-care practice. Normally I write in some kind of journal every month or two, but now that I write on any topic every morning, most mornings I end up writing at least a bit about what's on my mind. The rest of the time I either work on writing projects I'm in the middle of, or write about those projects, which helps get me unstuck and think of new ideas and new ways to phrase things. I'd recommend Morning Pages to anyone who likes the idea of journaling or writing more but doesn't have a routine yet. Modify the practice to your needs, and get writing!