Let Go and Let Flow

When you write for a living–in my case as a grant writer, blog writer, newsletter writer, appeal writer,  e-blast writer, and every-other-type-of-miscellaneous-communication-writer for the non profit, Plant With Purpose–every word counts.

 I budget my time and my words. I only spend time working on projects that could be useful, writing words and sentences that will end up on donor’s screens and mailboxes.

There’s no time for fluff or play when the words I write could impact the lives of families around the world (more on my narcissistic, save-the-world guilt complex later).

Which is why I’ve decided to let go and let flow.

I’ve started a twelve-week challenge to foster creative freedom called The Artist’s Way at Work. The foundation of The Artist’s Way rests on a seemingly useless commitment to writing Morning Pages.

Julia Cameron, the mastermind behind The Artist’s Way, explains, “as it suggests, they’re done in the morning and they’re pages.”

Specifically, Morning Pages are three pages of handwritten (who still hand writes anything longer than a to do list these days?!), free flowing, stream of consciousness (ie purposeless) writing, done first thing in the morning before you’ve even had your coffee.

Insanity, right? 
My first objection was time. Wouldn’t this time be better spent completing a report at the office, writing masterpieces for this blog, working out my booty, or, the best idea yet, getting more sleep? 
When the entire first chapter, the leaping off point of the book, talked ONLY about the importance of Morning Pages the ever diligent student in me decided I better cave and set the alarm a half hour earlier. 
My second objection was pragmatism. How could it possibly be USEFUL to write three pages of brain dump in a notebook? On the off chance my non-caffeinated brain produces anything brilliant or remotely usable, then I’ll have to spend even more time typing up the words that just gave me a hand cramp from writing out in a notebook that the world will never see.
I journal, I do. When inspiration strikes, I write down prayers and thoughts and verses and quotes that stand out to me that may or may not ever see the public eye. But Morning Pages are different. Morning Pages require premeditated mental ascension to the seemingly useless. They require you to commit, to discipline yourself, to an act that in my ‘time and words are money’ mentality seems ludicrous and even downright irresponsible.

But Julia Cameron and her apparently millions of followers swear by the pages as the first and most crucial step toward unleashing creativity.

So I’m doing it. For the past two weeks, I’ve (mostly) written my morning pages everyday. Although sometimes they don’t happen till after a workout or a cup of coffee, I’ve been pretty good about sticking to the regimen. And, you know what, I kind of like them.

After my Morning Pages I feel more awake, more alive, more in tune with myself and with God. About 1½ pages into my self-focused chicken scratch, something shifts. After I’ve exhausted my whining and complaining, I begin to think about serving other people. I begin to talk to God (which I’d also venture to say I’d been doing the whole time). And by the end of the three pages I have not just a hand cramp, but an invigorated outlook on life, a greater sense of purpose, and a sense that God is moving in and through even my petty thought life.

For me the real discipline–and the real reward–is letting go of my compulsion to craft, to polish, to edit my thoughts and words for public consumption. To spend somewhere between 26:03 and 28:37 minutes (not that I’m keeping track) being Aly, uncut and uncensored, and remembering that my worth is not found in my ability to string together coherent sentences or complete a report or article or blog post. That my worth is not found in my own ability to create, but is inherent in me because of the One who created me.  

The great poet, Scott Cairns, who I had the privilege of taking a class with this last semester, said, “Why would you want to write when you already know what you’re going to say? That’s called propaganda. We write to comes to terms with our lives.”

The Morning Pages are helping me “come to terms” with my life. Through them I am reclaiming writing as a journey to self-discovery and God-discovery.

And, so far, I’m liking what I see.

To learn more about the Morning Pages, watch a video explanation here.

Or, if you absolutely refuse to write longhand or can’t even remember how to form letters with a rudimentary object called a pen or pencil, there’s a website called 750words.com where you can privately write the equivalent of three pages of longhand. This site has a ton of cool statistics, word trackers, and can even give you insight into your subconscious and metadata. If you’re like me and love to geek out on words, I highly recommend this site.

What do you think? Would you consider writing Morning Pages? What are your biggest objections? 


2 thoughts on “Let Go and Let Flow

  1. M says:

    The book you mentioned sounds really cool. Are you working through the whole book? Or just this one excercise? I constantly struggle with the temptation to buy books…especially ones that look as cool as this one does. But the fact is that I'm in the middle of moving, and I'm trying to purge any excess/ excessively heavy items (like books, for example). I'm curious if this one would be worth its weight/ price. Either way, I might give this excersise a shot.

  2. Aly Lewis says:

    I'm (slowly) working through the whole book. It's a pretty big book, but you can get it used on Amazon for really cheap–definitely worth it!Let me know how the morning pages go!

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