The brain is a funny thing.
Everyone, as far as I’ve noticed, has their sanity rituals. Things they do, whether they’re aware of it or not, that keep centered. Keep them clear and present and in a relatively even mood. And the reason I say that the brain is a funny thing, is that inevitably we’ll stray away from those things-we’re busy, we get caught up in life, etc etc-and then we wonder why we’re so crabby and empty-brained and dark-mooded, because the brain somehow forgets, over and over, not only what keeps it happy but that it feels other than how it feels in the moment.
Sometimes, we’re way, way too good at being present.
One of my rituals is journalling. Not poetry writing, which happens separately and many times springs from things I write about in my journal. No. Ugly, petty, inarticulate, morose, boring journalling. The stuff that I’d burn before letting anyone see. The notebooks I’m going to sneakily bonfire just before laying down at my death bed at the end of my hopefully long life. That journaling. In an overcrowded world, in a loud life, this is the ultimate movable ‘room of one’s own.’ And I’m absolutely convinced that regularly putting ink marks on pieces of paper is what keeps me in my best space. Now sure, as I’ve said before, life would go on if I never did this again. I’d be, more or less, fine. But, I would not be a particularly colorful person, I probably would be much slower to deal with things gracefully, my brain would be much more disorganized (and, really, that’s saying something.)
In the latest Time Magazine special, on Creativity, GLENN LEIBOWITZ writes about this (check the article out Here), and specifically Julia Cameron’s daily writing ritual ‘morning pages’. Essentially, morning pages, according to Julia, are three pages of nonstop steam of consciousness writing. Preferably not digital. Actually, she strongly recommends against doing morning pages in the computer, no matter how sloppy your handwriting is.
Additionally, she recommends a few more stipulations to get the most out of morning pages.
- Write as soon as you wake
- Don’t stop writing
- Don’t write to publish
- Don’t show them to anyone
On her website, Julia explains them such:
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
Now, some take this to mean 8.5×11 pages and that’s the norm, but I have a particular penchant for pocket moleskins myself and that’s what I use. But whatever you use, it’s an incredibly good exercise, especially if you’re an especially neurotic person. (cough cough.)