This post is super delayed because I’m already done with #challenge4of30by12!
So for the 3rd challenge in this series of 12 challenges, I decided to start writing 750 words everyday, the first thing in the morning. Alternatively known as morning pages. I started this exercise purely to get into the habit of writing again. I also felt the need to pen down all the thoughts that are in my head. Having read about it in a dozen of different places, I realised that the only way to make room for new thoughts and ideas is to get rid of the ones that already in your head. The experts say that these ‘morning pages’ are not to be re-read, or read by anyone else. It’s simply to get the junk out of your head and give you a clean state to begin your day with.
After doing it for about 2 weeks, I realised that the days I missed this exercise entirely, I was cranky and irritable. I became aware of the difference that this act of simply penning down each and every thought had made in my life. I likened this act to our morning ablutions as we need purge our bodies of the remains of yesterday in order to consume more today. Also the fact that I’m never going to read these pages again, and no one will ever read them, frees me from the fear of judgement. It doesn’t matter if my handwriting is perfect or for that matter legible. It doesn’t matter if my grammar is incorrect in some places. My mum always used to say “Start your day with positive thoughts and the rest of your day will turn out great!” But when I’m grumpy, anxious and sleep deprived, the last thing I want to do is to force positive thoughts. And with morning pages, I can express my grumpiness, dissatisfaction, anxiety and get rid of them making space for actual positive and optimistic thoughts!
I started doing this religiously, waking up earlier that usual to get the 15 minutes to write down 750 words. In the beginning I did this with my morning cup of tea but gradually I found myself writing the 750 words at my office desk at about 11 am. I know that the experts recommend doing this exercise before you get into your tasks for the day. But adapting this to suit my routine better, has helped. I can do this in peace and private. I can finish without looking at the time all the time. And I can do it everyday. And when I do it just before I get into my work-tasks, it makes more confident and calm as a person.
By the time I reach office, my mind is thinking of a thousand different things, about projects, about meetings, about deadlines, about my son, about the mess in my bathroom, the laundry piling up, the groceries that need to be refilled and so on! And all these thoughts will make it a nightmare for anyone for actually focus on the task at hand and the plan of action for the day. But when I write my 750 words, I grow calmer and more focussed. I trash the pessimism and the anxiety and become more positive and happy. I can then make a realistic plan for the day and list the task that are most urgent and that can be accomplished. And then my day becomes less hectic, less busy and more enjoyable.
It’s safe to say that this one habit is going to stick with me for a long long time. It’s already 2 months since I’m doing it and I’m already feeling the benefits!
To sum it all up, here are my key observations:
- Use an actual notebook/ journal and a pen. I use this. Typing out the 750 words will not help a lot because we edit in our brain before even type and we edit as we type. The pen and the paper make it more real, more you. Also the pen and paper slow you down. Typing will give you speed and save time but not give you the depth that you need.
- Even though experts say that you should do this before you get into your daily routine, preferably within the first 90 minutes of waking up, I suggest that you decide on a time that suits you the best. With a school going toddler and breakfast and lunches to prepare, the first 90 minutes of my day make it impossible for me site down and find the 20-30 minutes I need for this. Doing this just before I start my work-tasks helps me so much more!
- Shush your inner critic. Don’t bother with the grammar, language. Just write. Write anything and everything that comes to your mind. You can spout poetry or positivity or spew all the negativity brewing inside. The point is not to dwell. Write and forget.
- Be consistent. This works best when you practice everyday. And then at one point, when you don’t write, you feel the difference in your day, your mood.
So give it a shot and tell me what you think!