Three pages of longhand free-writing.
Just stream of consciousness being poured onto a page, first thing in the morning.
Those words aren’t to be used for anything. (They’re not first drafts of blog posts, for instance.) They’re simply a giant brain dump. A spring clean of your mind.
I love doing them.
The first two pages I write are always full of surface stuff – usually whatever is worrying or bothering me most at the time.
The third page is where the magic tends to happen.
Freed of having to hold onto everything that’s bugging me, my brain starts to deliver insights:
- Solutions to nagging problems.
- An understanding that things I’d built up to epic proportions in my mind weren’t that big, insurmountable or even worth worrying about.
- A reminder that it’s better to accept things for how they are instead of constantly grasping for how they ‘should be’.
While this makes it a great tool for creativity, I’ve also found it to be a great tool for life.
Because you’re the only person who will ever see those words, you don’t have to hold back.
You can write what you really think.
You can go deep into how something makes you feel.
Morning Pages provides an opportunity for self-reflection that is a lot cheaper than therapy. It also gets your sub-conscious ruminating. If you write about a big problem on Monday, I can almost guarantee your sub-conscious will deliver a key insight about it on Thursday. If you let it.
Here’s my main problem, however.
Free-writing three pages (roughly 750 words) longhand takes me a solid 30 minutes.
And while I know I should be able to set aside 30 minutes a day for this exercise, there are many other things I need to set aside time for, (family, health, work, whitespace). And all those things add up.
While it would be easy to take the all or nothing approach with Morning Pages, (i.e. ‘If I can’t write longhand for 30 minutes, I won’t do it at all’), I’ve found the ‘something is better than nothing’ approach still provides great benefits.
So today I have a challenge for you.
- Grab yourself a piece of paper or a notebook.
- Grab a pen.
- Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes.
- Then start writing and don’t stop. (If you don’t know what to write then literally write, ‘I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write.’)
Your writing doesn’t need to be legible. The words and sentences don’t need to make sense or be grammatically correct. The goal is to simply pour the thoughts in your mind on to the paper.
When your 10 minutes is up, you have the option to stop. But if you’ve hit some flow, keep going until you’ve filled two pages. Or three pages. It’s completely up to you.
You don’t have to do it first thing in the morning either. I sometimes do it after school drop-off. Sometimes just before bed. Sometimes at a café during my lunch break.
The key is to do at least 10 minutes today.
And then tomorrow.
And the next day after that.
After a few days, you’ll realise there is something super-special about writing longhand, (something few of us do anymore).
- Forcing your brain to slow down to the speed of your hands is calming.
- Being able to write things you could never voice aloud is freeing.
- Accessing insights and ideas from deep in your sub-conscious is thrilling.
Getting a dose of all three of these things daily? Well, it’s just like therapy. Only a whole lot cheaper ?