Monday, February 25, 2013

Morning Pages: cheap therapy

***As with any kind of writing advice/therapy, this is one individual experience and is NOT a necessarily something that may work for anyone else in the same way***

Over the past two years, since learning about The Artist's Way (TAW), I've done a "creative reboot" at least twice. Each time, I enjoy working through the 12 week program, gaining insights about my creative process and myself.

However, it's really time intensive! And right now, between the EDJ and my own health and writing time commitments, it's not as feasible. I'm hoping to do another full TAW work-through this year, but not right now. So, instead of doing the whole thing, I have made a return to Morning Pages.

For those of you unfamiliar with TAW, one of the "required" assignments is to sit down first thing every morning and spew out three longhand pages. The first few days feel very "Dear Diary, today the boy I like in math class looked at me!" but if you can tell your inner critic to STFU, and let all those random thoughts flow, it can provide wonderful insights--or at the very least, cheap therapy.

I've struggled with depression for over a decade, and of all the "treatments" I've been prescribed, one of the single most effective was talk therapy. I used to refer to my therapist as "the friend my parents bought me," but there was just something about having a sounding board to whom you could vomit all your negative thoughts that was terribly cathartic.

I have to tell you...pen and paper is a lot less expensive, and I don't have to deal with an insurance company to get it. For me, at this point, morning pages have been a wonderful outlet for all the stresses, negative thoughts, and doubts that normally would fester in my head to the point of distraction.

What I didn't expect was the side benefits of morning pages. I wake up earlier, which was a struggle the first week, but now means my a.m. is less rushed. I have time to enjoy breakfast at home, let myself wake up, before commuting to work. During the day, I've noticed fewer "whirling thoughts", i.e. those times when you've got so much crap fighting for attention in your brain that you can't actually stop to make sense of anything. And at night, I have fewer anxious dreams. Finally, having a routine, something I do every day with or without work, is beneficial. Morning Pages are the first significant thing I do in the morning,  and it signals to my body that the day is beginning. No going back to sleep, no lounging around all day--my mind is in gear, and it wants something to do. I've found that, on the weekends, once I do my morning pages, I'm much more ready to write.

For less than 30 minutes of my day, morning pages pack a powerful punch!

Have you ever done morning pages, or something like it?


Cara Bristol said...

I imagine "morning pages" could wake up one's creativity. What is the benefit to writing longhand v. typing on the computer? Is it that it slows you down?

Skylar Kade said...

Cara, I've done pages longhand and on the computer (at The idea of writing longhand is that you're more "connected" and it slows you down. I personally don't see anything wrong with doing it on the computer and I found it just as cathartic.

Writing longhand, I had the excuse of buying a cute new notebook and a really nice pen!