This week on Guinea Pigging Green, Laura and I are talking all about morning pages! If you’re not familiar with them, the idea is to do 3 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning, by hand in a notebook. The purpose is to get rid of your internal judging voice, and get all the junk and insecurities and worries in your head down on paper before you start your day. I’ve done this before, for several months back in 2012 around the time when I did NaNoWriMo for the first time! Back then I was going through some things personally and I found the process incredibly helpful in working out some of the stuff in my head at the time.
About a month ago, Laura sent me an article she’d seen on the Daily Muse about morning pages and asked if I’d like to do them together for a month to see what would happen. I was definitely interested and happily recommitted to this practice I’d let slip out of my life nearly 2 full years ago. I’m happy to report that I love doing the pages more than ever.
So, how can you do morning pages yourself? It’s very, very simple. The official definition specifically says:
There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages—they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind—and they are for your eyes only. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page.
Previously, I’d been using 750words.com, an awesome site based on the idea of morning pages which tracks your progress and saves your words every day. It’s an awesome way to ease into it if you’re new to the idea and want to give it a try. That being said, I think my experience writing it by hand in my notebook this time around has been a thousand times more enjoyable and helpful. As Laura put it, it’s just so much more cozy to write your pages by hand each morning in a nice notebook with a nice pen. I also love that that means I’m doing my morning writing before opening my computer. It has been so refreshing to take that time for myself before checking in with all the distractions my computer brings.
I’m also delighted that doing my morning pages has been an anchor for my morning, giving me something to do before I get swept up in the day and distracted by other things. It’s led to a bit of a domino effect lately too where I have begun meditating right after finishing my pages using the Headspace app. Then after that, I’ll have breakfast and do my 7 minute workout. And voila! A productive morning where one good thing flows into another. I find that no matter what else I do all day, I’m always so grateful to have taken that time to check in with myself before I start the day.
You can find out more about my experience with morning pages by tuning into the podcast here, and you can learn much more about the pages themselves on Julia Cameron’s blog here.
This as a crazy moment. You should have seen me at the Post Office, picking up my slimmer-than-expected brown cardboard package, practically beaming with delight as I thrust my delivery notice at the bored cashier. I held it together until I got home, I definitely didn’t hyperventilate at the crosswalk or anything (okay, so I did. In a good way.), and then did a happy dance in my apartment. Cause it’s just cute, right?
This is the first book I wrote myself. It was a labourof love. And sometimes hate. There were times (they were usually way past my bedtime times) where I couldn’t express how much I resented my pre-November self who decided to take this project on. Other times, those 1667 daily words whizzed by – but those times were rare. But being able to hold a bound copy of my work, flip through and look at my words (half of which I no longer remember writing)…it makes it all worth it.
I printed a “proof copy” from CreateSpace – NaNoWriMo winners get 5 free copies of their novel, but only after paying for a proof copy – and guess what? I didn’t double and triple check the file, so my book showed up missing the last few pages. Let me emphasize: this was because of my own stupidity. CreateSpace couldn’t have been easier to use. So I’ve now uploaded the right file and will probably order another copy in the future.
How do you think my name looks in print? I’m hoping this won’t be the last time I author a real, tangible book. A belated thank you to everyone who egged me on during that crazy writing month – I’m thrilled it helped me get to this point. Thrilled, I say!
It was completely surreal to hit 50,062 words last Wednesday. I finished my book while sitting in a comfy Starbucks armchair, just as the store was closing, serenaded by festive holiday music. I just typed my 1320 words, finished up my story, and that was it. It was so…BIZARRE.
I learned a ton from this experience, both about myself and about writing. Below, my insights:
1. Do What Works For You
I was disciplined enough to do my 1600+ words a day (even though some days I hated every second), so that I was always right on schedule. Staying on schedule was remarkably (and disconcertingly) easy. It was odd. If I forced myself to do it, no matter what, I was always hitting the little progress bar, and slowly but surely it crept up to tens of thousands of words. By the time the last two days rolled around, I wasn’t scrambling or stressing. I just wrote my daily quota, again, for the 30th time.
Now I’m not suggesting that my way of completing this crazy month was superior, but it was really the only way I personally could have done it. I guess to a certain extent I need to be meticulous. I knew that if I fell behind, I would never catch up, because with everything else going on I wouldn’t be able to devote hours in a day to binge writing.
I guess you could describe my writing style as organized. I know Gabrielle, when she gets into her story, can write thousands of words in just a few days – she’s overcome with the passion of writing. And while I admire that, love that, wish I was like that…for now I know what works for me is putting one foot in front of the other. I hope that one day I can become consumed by my stories and write like the wind, but for now I’m proud that I even carve out the time to let myself write creatively. Which brings me to my next point…
Did I stress bake again? This is getting out of hand. Let’s pretend it’s NOT stress baking. Instead, this is celebration baking.
What am I celebrating today?
Today, November 30th, is the day I finish my first novel! 1320 words to go!
After today, I will have only 17 days until I get to go home for the holidays!
Tomorrow is December 1st, the start of the most wonderful month of the year!
The pain in my teeth has finally started to subside, and the antibiotics will start kicking in soon – yay!
I’m nearly done the paper that has been causing me grief for a while
I’ve got all sorts of exciting ideas for hand-made Christmas gifts planned!
What are you celebrating today?
Yesterday, on a brief hiatus from the editing/re-writing of that darned paper, I took a moment to indulge my Top Chef: Just Desserts side (a show that I discovered a few days ago, to great delight!!). This is also little bit of a tribute to my experience at NaNoWriMo. The black-and-white swirls and stripes is in honour of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, because I found out this month that she wrote it during NaNoWriMo a few years ago! That inspiring tidbit has been getting me through my month. I was so impressed that such a wonderful novel could come out of that speed-writing experience.