What exactly are morning pages? They are three pages of daily stream of consciousness, written first thing upon arising. An excellent meditation practice for hyperactive Westerners, the pages clarify and prioritize our day. Morning pages are not intended to be high art. They are not “real” writing. They are simply the siphoning off of the mind’s surface so that we can get to the deeper thoughts and impulses that lie beneath our daily voice-over. What is the daily voice-over? It is that petty, picky voice that brings us up short so often.
All of us have a voice-over of things we are concerned with. Morning pages are a catcher’s mitt for these concerns. By putting them onto the page, we are able to move into our days with fresh eyes. Morning pages may be whiny and grumpy. They may feel petty and negative, although occasionally a shiny new insight may come glittering through. Although the content of morning pages seems to have nothing to do with art, they often move us first to more artful lives and then to art itself.
Taken at face value, morning pages seem to have nothing to do with art. After all, what does “I forgot to buy kitty litter” have to do with writing your opera? As it turns out, plenty. The kitty litter is a distraction, as is the conversation you need to have with your boss and the present you need to buy for a friend’s baby’s christening. All of these concerns eddy through your consciousness and keep you from thinking about the opera—unless you put them on the page. When you put them on the page, you put them out of your mind. You silence an annoying voice-over. The mental static ends. With your worries out of the way, your mind is able to roam more freely, to turn in more adventurous directions. In the course of an ordinary day, the end of Act One might come to you with crystalline clarity.
Morning pages tell us when we are overspending our time or our energy. They tutor us in the art of self-investment, channeling our energies and our finances along lines that are personally rewarding. When we are bingeing, physically or fiscally, the pages help to put us on track. Morning pages bring our hopes, dreams, fears, and confusions into focus. They point us toward areas that need attention. While some people may use the pages to face an addiction, others may find the pages leading them toward dreams they had never articulated. As we come into focus, our size and shape are often surprisingly large.
Seth Godin, during his talk with Chris Do, talks about the myth of the writer's block and it is something we need to get over. When we say we can't write is really the feeling we have that we can't write anything perfect. We are certainly capable of writing poorly. If you write poorly enough, your brain will give up and sooner or later you will start writing well. No one says to a plumber: "Oh, I don't know how do you find the energy to fit the toilet?" As a professional, that's just what you do. First show me 50k words of bad writing then maybe you can decide you are not a writer.
You cannot overcome your strive for perfection - you can only dance with it. The harder you try to overcome it, the more you are giving it power. What it means to 'overcome it' you are saying 'I will be creative as soon as I'll get a standing ovation from my brain'. and your brain will not give you that because it's afraid. So, you need to say 'I will be creative especially when my brain is freaking out'. Every day, at 4 o'clock I'll ship something. If everyday you'll commit to it, then you will be creative.
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