Monday Morning Pages – Using Diary Techniques

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Writing a journal or diary has a long history.  It’s taken many forms throughout the years, and diarists have developed tools that help get at the heart of the self.

Two of my favorites are cathartic writing and listing.

In cathartic writing, we write about something that evokes strong emotions – a memory or an event that happened to us.  If we’ve experienced trauma, it’s a good idea to do this with the assistance of a therapist.  But cathartic writing can help us get the emotion out of our heads and onto the page, where we can begin to work with it and make it something positive.

In listing, we make lists of related things.  They might be lists of tasks to accomplish, or it might be lists of places we’ve lived – roommates, pets, apartments, etc.  Listing can be a way to free associate – for example, start with coffee and make a list of all the beverages you can think of.  Setting a timer for five minutes can help add structure to this exercise.  Try listing things in your bedroom at home, if you’re away from home; or your office, if you’re at home.  Use it to strengthen memory, by listing everything in your bedroom growing up at the age of five, then eight, then twelve.

What about you, Dear Reader?  What tools do you like to use in your journal?

Monday Morning Pages – Gym Challenges

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It’s getting up on that time of year when people set resolutions.  It’s all over the place – what resolutions do you want to set, what goals do you have, all that stuff.  That’s not the kind of challenge that I’m talking about.

Set a Gym Challenge

I recently participated in a challenge at my gym.  The objective was simple:  show up, every day, for twenty-five days in a row.

C’est fini.  That’s all.  K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple, sweetie.

To my shock, it worked.  I showed up, and I learned something.

Getting TO the Gym Is Half the Battle

Just being there counts.  Even if you go in with your razor and shaving cream, and spend an hour in the shower, it counts.

Why?

Because when we show up, we’re more likely to actually work out, even a little.  For example, one day I just got on the treadmill for an hour and watched an episode of my favorite show on Netflix.  The gym has free wifi, or it’s got television on broadcast on several machines.  You just bring your earphones, and they’ll tell you what channels you can connect with.  (This can sometimes backfire if you’re next to a Fox news fan, but that’s a different problem.)

Five Ideas For a Challenge

  1. Set your time frame.  Experts say it takes twenty-one days to develop a new habit, so three weeks is a nice chunk, or do twenty-five days like my gym did.
  2. If you’re a member at a health club, go there.  If you’re not, harness the power of the internet and use sites like YouTube to come up with workout plans.
  3. Walk.  Even twenty minutes a day is a good starting point.
  4. Commit with someone.  Contact a friend and ask them to be your “body buddy.”
  5. Talk about it on Facebook or other social media.  There’s nothing like making it public to keep yourself on track.  People will root for you and keep you motivated.

What about you, Dear Reader?  What challenge do you want to set for yourself?

Monday Morning Pages

20141201_193155It’s Day Two of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

Those of us who are participating feverishly scribble or tippet-tap all day, in between our other tasks: at lunch, on breaks, while the kids are asleep, anywhere we can. That’s how NaNo works: accumulate words. Like Julia Cameron says, “Accumulate pages, not judgments.”

Why Morning Pages?

The Artist’s Way teaches us that forward motion creates its own momentum. In order to sustain that momentum, we need to know, and practice, that which feeds our inner artist.

Why, then, do Morning Pages during NaNo?

Morning pages are three pages, longhand, done in the morning. As Cameron points out, they’re not meant to be Writing with a capital W. They’re more like brain drain, she says. Natalie Goldberg likens this type of writing to meditation.

Whatever you call them, Morning Pages work.

Try it today: take out three letter-sized pieces of blank paper and a pen or pencil. Write three pages, and then put them away. Don’t read them, and don’t share them. Then tomorrow, try it again. Try it every day in NaNo and see what effect it has on your month.

Write on!

Monday Morning Pages

Morning Pages.  Three pages of longhand writing in the morning.  Not meant to be written, in the sense that they’re a exercise in getting the brain onto the page and giving voice to what the Chinese call monkey mind – that bouncing, scattershot squirrel of thoughts that natters on throughout the day behind the scenes.

I’ve been doing Morning Pages since 1995 and they’ve quite literally changed my life.  It’s to the point, now, where I don’t even argue their effectiveness, because I know they’re effective – I just assign them, teach them, preach them, do them.

They’re most effective when we do them, I’ve learned.

When I came up with the theme for Mondays as “Monday Morning Pages,” I did it more for the sense of transliteration than anything else.  But as I type, I find it fitting that Mondays would be this sort of post – a Zen wander through my mind and, in the case of today, my camera.

The morning was gorgeous.  The light had a golden quality with the oncoming sun that made the snow sparkle.  It was really cold, only about 8F, but lovely.

My lunch serves as a rest for my craft bag, which right now carries the Emerald Keep Scarf and my story binder, which has two in-process novels in it, Sealed by Duty and Sapphire Dream.  It’s got the story grid, setting triangle, and GMC for all of the characters.  I’ll expand on what those things are in another post, but for now, I’m just sharing what’s in my bag.  The cup is my cold coffee for the morning.  A necessity.  I didn’t have time to make hot coffee, so this is some cold stuff that I made yesterday.  It’s caffeinated, that’s all I care about before I’m all the way awake.

There’s no school today, since it’s President’s Day.  But the school had a light on, making me wonder who went to school today?  A hardworking teacher?  A lonely janitor?  A homeless person sneaking in out of the cold?  An alien, hoping to take over the building as the new command center of an invading force?

Hey, man.  It’s Monday, and this is the Morning Pages.

You have been warned.  🙂