Sometimes one small change to our routines leads us to take action. For me it was a change in my morning schedule. That happened because my partner (who was more of a night owl) started a job that requires him to be on site at 7am. So now he joined me in being an early bird (my usual wake up time was 5:30am – 6am). We are both waking up at 5am now! This was great for my morning routine! The result is that now I have 30 minutes free before leaving for my work.
One of the things that I've always struggled was to find time to journal. I tried mobile apps, notes apps, journaling before bed or on my lunch breaks. But it was always unsustainable, and I never had more than 10-15 minutes to write. I was either too tired to journal before bed or I had no time throughout the day. And I've been thinking about writing (including blogging more) for months!
So I saw this 30min pocket of time in my mornings. I remembered a book I read during the pandemic about writing practice and also some articles about morning pages, which I will get to in a minute.
My realisation was that using my mornings to write was the best use of those 30 minutes. These were the steps I took to make it happen.
Finding a reason and a method
I went back to the book about writing practice. The book is: “Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within” by Natalie Goldberg. Re-Reading this book was the catalyst: I noticed this pocket of free time, connected it with my urge to write more and a technique to follow... And voila, a space for writing practice was born.
Natalie Goldberg describes a simple practice: set up a timer for any amount of time you have available, and start writing. Whatever it is on your mind, just write. Don't worry about punctuation or grammar. Don't edit, just write. You can choose a theme, a topic, anything, or write whatever you feel like in the moment.
Another popular method is the Morning Pages, described by Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist's Way”. The practice is to write 3 handwritten pages (equivalent of 750 words) every morning, every day. Stream of consciousness writing. You can burn the pages later.
I prefer the practice described by Natalie Goldberg because it's more flexible. She actually encourages us to go back and re-read our entries to extract some ideas and good pieces of writing. I highly recommend her book. It's is a delightful read. She connects writing with mindfulness Zen practice, which pretty much aligns with my feelings on writing.
“When you write, don’t say, “I’m going to write a poem.” That attitude will freeze you right away. Sit down with the least expectation of yourself; say, “I am free to write the worst junk in the world.” You have to give yourself the space to write a lot without a destination.” — Natalie Goldberg
How am I doing it
I prefer to type using a full sized keyboard. So my steps are:
I sit down at my home office desk
Open up my notes app (Standard Notes) and go to my Daily Notes folder to create a new note
Set up a timer from 20 min to 30 min (how much I have available that day)
Start writing whatever comes to mind until the alarm goes off.
I'm not hard on myself. I will miss some days, but I strive to do it most days.
My timer beside my keyboard
For me it has been a little cathartic experience (in a good way).
Just by having this space to pour out my thoughts into text reduces my anxiety. I never thought it could be that simple.
It's like a mindfulness practice. Because I'm in the moment, transcribing my thoughts. And by transcribing them, they loose power. Worrisome thoughts are not worries anymore. They become fleeting thoughts. It has been a powerful tool to use with therapy. My days are lighter!
For me the important thing here is writing privately. It wouldn't work for me if I was publishing these entries on the internet. It is an intimate mind dump. It is a space to throw it all out. It is not pretty, or logic or even coherent. But sometimes there are good things in there that I will use to write a blog post, for example.
By having these morning writing sessions I have more headspace for ideas. Writing ideas. Life ideas. Fun ideas. I am reading better. I'm feeling less anxious. I'm not writing to please anybody. It's just for me. And it's wonderful.
#writing #standardnotes #journaling #journal #mindfulness #NoisyMusings
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By Noisy Deadlines
Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.