Today is day four of the morning pages exercise. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
1. Make Morning Pages a Priority
I almost skipped morning pages today. It wasn’t something I consciously chose to do. I just let myself get side-tracked. I started surfing around reading other peoples’ stuff, looking for inspiration, and before I knew it, an hour had passed, and I’d still not started writing.
I may have to change my morning routine, which typically looks like this. I roll out of bed and hit the bathroom. Then I grab a coffee. Next, I turn on my computer and check a few things. Then I finally sit down to write my morning pages. I think tomorrow I won’t turn on my computer until my morning pages are done.
2. Let Go of Results
When we start some new course of self-improvement, whether an exercise program, a spiritual practice or morning pages, we tend to expect immediate results. At least I do. And If I don’t see results pretty quickly, I tend to find reasons to stop doing the exercise. I decided this morning that I’d commit to doing morning pages for 30 days without any expectation of results.
3. Make Morning Pages a Special Ritual
Get clear about the reasons you’re doing this. For me, there are several reasons. First, writing is imperative to my business. Any successful online business is driven by relevant and informative content, and that starts with writing. Second, I’m doing this to become a better writer so I can write more, and touch more people with my writing.
Third, this has become a spiritual practice for me. Through this process, I’m reconnecting with myself; with my inner spirit. It’s a form of meditation. I’m reconnecting with my true self and the divine within me.
When I sit down to write, I have a hot cup of coffee or tea, and turn on Gregorian Chant Radio on Pandora. The music is soothing and relaxing and it sets a mood that reflects the special and spiritual nature of my ritual. Of course, if I don’t turn on my computer tomorrow, I’ll need to find a new source of music. Fortunately, I recorded some Gregorian chant music that I can download to my iPod.
4. Get a Good Notebook
I learned this the very first day when I tried to write on one of those notebooks with the binding on the side. The binding gets in the way when it’s on the side, so find a notebook with the binding on the top. It’s much easier to write that way. Also, because I tend to write small, I prefer wide-ruled instead of college ruled.
5. Get a Good Pen
A good pen is crucial when writing longhand. You want a pen that doesn’t require you to use a lot of downward pressure, or else your hand and arm will get sore pretty quickly. And you don’t want this process to be painful. I use a Pentel BL-17A Energel pen. You can pick one up at the local drugstore, an office products store, such as Staples or online at Amazon.com.
6. Just Keep Going
I noticed this morning that my typical writing style is to go really slow and think about everything I’m writing. I would finish a sentence, and then stop to think about what I want to write next. It was like driving down the road, and suddenly, there’s a roadblock in the middle of the road. You’re stopped. Dead in your tracks. So, you just sit there and stare at the roadblock.
This is writing from the left side of your brain. The logical, analytical part of your brain. The whole idea with morning pages is to write from the right side of your brain. The creative, non-analytical side of your brain. So, if you find yourself stopped, just keep going. Even if that means you write something like “okay, I don’t know what to write now” until you’ve completed your three pages. The words will eventually begin to flow again.
7. Date Your Morning Pages Entries
I’m not quite sure why I think this is important, but I started doing it this morning. I think it has something to do with keeping track of how long I’ve been writing morning pages. A month from now, it might be cool to look back and say, “wow, I’ve been doing this for 30 days straight.” Or not. Who knows.
8. Pick Out Any Big Ideas for Future Articles
After you’re done writing your three pages, go back through and see if there are any big ideas that can serve as fodder for an article that you may actually publish. If you can pick out some big ideas, go ahead and start a draft article based on them. You don’t necessarily have to complete the article immediately, but at least you can get it started.
If you’re using WordPress, it’s really easy to do this. Just add a new post, give it a title and write the big ideas out in the post editor. Then you can simply hit the “Save Draft” button in the upper right corner. Whenever you’re ready to finish, go for it. I have several draft articles already saved in my WordPress control panel. I may never finish them, but at least they are started.