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Write Freely to Focus on Your Core Message
I heeded the warning about writing Morning Pages: DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME with them. Marion Roach Smith adamantly states to avoid messing around with Morning Pages. Rather, she urges us to write with intent. I trust her judgment, so I took her advice.
But later I came across another perspective presented by Suzanne Stabile. Suzanne explained on her podcast, The Enneagram Journey, that for 9s, 6s, and 4s, writing out Morning Pages is a fantastic way to start out the day because we dump all the thoughts–good and bad–on to paper, then toss them out. Gone. It’s a quick and easy way to declutter a busy brain. Her explanation cracked open for me, a 9 on the enneagram, the purpose and meaning to Morning Pages for me: to declutter a busy creative brain so the best thoughts can breakthrough.
When I heard Suzanne define Morning Pages, I realized I’ve been writing Morning Pages for decades. But I don’t call my early morning writings “Morning Pages.” I call my method of journaling thinking on paper. And it’s an important part of my writing routine.
Thinking On Paper
My journaling method always involves writing inside a simple notebook with a favorite pen, while sitting in “my spot” on a big comfy sofa, next to the picture window that invites views of God’s astonishing Sierra Foothills to come inside. Accompanied by a mug of fresh, hot coffee, I scribble a mass of words and thoughts onto pages that I won’t read again. This is how I declutter my brain, sort and process ideas to get to the good stuff. This is my rendition of Morning Pages.
Keep What’s Good
Writing Morning Pages also works as a personal pressure release valve. Why walk around all day with unneeded brain clutter when you can empty your load onto paper? The day ahead is immediately lighter and brighter. Most of what we hold in our heads are untruths, anyway. Why waste the brain space to store junk?
Handwriting is a Mental Warm-Up Exercise
If you were to call handwriting Morning Pages “an exercise,” I’d say you’re right. Studies show that there’s a connection between the hand and the brain. The act of writing by hand, pen or pencil in hand, wakes up our brainwaves. Synapses fire off, and connections light up. All systems go. You’re ready to write. Spending 5, 10, or 20 minutes handwriting thoughts and ideas without self-editing will warm up your brain so when you do sit at your keyboard your words will come faster. Try it.
Sort Your Thoughts By Journaling
If you’re a visual and/or tactile thinker, you’ll relate to the power of routinely starting your day by writing Morning Pages. Especially since it ignites your brain’s sorting process needed in higher-level, organized thought. All your ideas need to be seen, sorted, shuffled, organized, and assembled into the story or message you have to share.
Should You Keep Your Morning Pages?
Suzanne recommends crumpling up your pages and tossing them out. I keep my notebooks because one day I might want to see if I captured a particular thought or idea. Or maybe I want to be sure I handed over such-and-such to God to carry. Did I forgive that person? My memory cheats me. Morning Pages hold my recall in check.
Bottom line: If you’re stuck in your writing, or you’re circling an idea but can’t get to the heart of the matter, grab a pen and blast out a few handwritten pages to clear the clutter and see what happens.
Let me know in the comments if you use journaling as part of your writing practice.
Watch Julia Cameron’s explanation of morning pages in her own words. (My view differs.)