I posted a time-lapse on Instagram the other day of me doing my morning pages. And I immediately got a reply from someone: “You write SO much every morning?! What do you write about? I’m glad if I can write a to-do list for me and the kids.” But with that thinking you’re missing the point of morning pages, of journalling the way I do. It’s not about writing something productive.
Yes. That’s right.
Morning pages is not about writing something productive.
Most of the morning pages I write are absolute crap. They either piss and moan about some aspect of my life that sucks (I’m too busy, too tired, I don’t want to work today, I want to go back to bed, or simply: I just don’t want to do these morning pages), or they are about all the things I still have to do, or some emotion I am feeling. I never know what I’ll write about before I start. I just put pen to paper and go.
So why do it? Why do morning pages when what comes out is total crap that’s fit for the garbage?
Warming up and get the rubbish words out
Well, think of it like this: if you are a runner who does marathons professionally. Would you do a marathon without warming up? Of course not, then your muscles are cold and you either injure yourself or set a crap time. Or worse: do both.
So I see morning pages as my warm-up for the day. Sometimes I get so stuck in my thoughts that my creative thinking is blocked and pushed down. It is hidden under the rubble of ‘I am not good enough’ and all types of ‘this sucks’. So I do morning pages. To get it out. To unclog the drain so the good words can come out.
Neil Gaiman said it better:
Assume that you have a million words inside you that are absolute rubbish and you need to get them out before you get to the good ones.
So show up to your morning pages, get some of the rubbish out to get to the good ones.
But that’s not the only thing that makes morning pages magic. For me, I’ve always been a thinker on paper. I think more clearly when I write things out than I do when I think in my head, or even talk things through with a friend.
So if my thoughts decided to come up with something like ‘I am missing out on this experience because my leg is injured and I can’t fully participate’, I get to think about it on paper. Not directed thinking, I just go where my pen takes me. I don’t think. I let it flow.
So in the above example, I kept writing about how much I didn’t like I couldn’t participate. And then suddenly on the paper, it said:
“Hang on a minute. You show up to everything. You’re doing all the sessions, doing all the work. The only thing you can’t do is jump up and down and dance. And even that you’re doing sitting on your bum in a chair. So ARE participating and you ARE showing up.”
So with those 10-20 minutes in the morning, I am able to stop a negative thinking pattern that would have held me hostage. And turned it around.
And sure, not every morning is magic. Sometimes you write pages and you go: Meh.
But the key here is: I show up. YOU showed up. So whatever your day turns out to be after that. You did this one thing that you said you are going to do every day. So you started your day by showing up for yourself. And that is always the right way to start your day.