Morning Pages: How I Cleared the Shitstorm in My Head

unsplas_ColeyChristineIt’s 9:30 a.m. on a rainy Saturday morning, and I’m at the World Information Architecture conference in Portland, and I’m wondering how I’m going to survive this hellish day.

I’m a pretty grumpy lady. I’m about to spend the whole day listening to speakers.  I’m also here to network, engage, shake hands, and explain to people what I do.  I need all my resources, but I came here with my introvert tank on empty. As I listen to the first speaker, I’m acutely aware that I do not have all my resources.

The day before I took an odd job to deliver some Valentine’s Day gifts for an online business. I thought I could knock out these quick errands in a couple hours turned into a nightmare.

I get overstimulated pretty easily. Things like crowds, noise, and bright lights crash my system and fry my brain. So by the end of the day of my brain computing one-way streets, pedestrians, incomplete addresses, delivery trucks, cyclists, tow away zones, Google Maps trying to kill me, more pedestrians and fuck it I’ll leave it on the stoop – I felt like someone blasted a KISS concert right in my face.

Now I have another full day of stimulation ahead of me, and even after a run and a full night of sleep, I still don’t feel myself. I couldn’t huddle under the bed covers like I normally do on a rainy Saturday. I have to sit in this damn auditorium and be talked at all day. When I meet new people, I have to be open, charming and friendly.

I feel out of sorts, and there’s only one thing that can fix it.

I need my moring pages, three full pages of nonstop writing that I do every morning. I didn’t have a chance to do my morning pages before Toku and I left in the morning. And part of the reason I’m grumpy and out of sorts and not feeling like myself is because I have a shitstorm in my head, a shitstorm that usually goes away when I do my morning pages. But because I didn’t do my pages this morning, I still have the shitstorm.

So I remove myself from the auditorium, find a quiet spot, put on my headphones and I write my pages.

Instantly, I feel better. The shitstorm is gone and the grumpiness is gone with it. During lunch and an afternoon break, I am charming, open, and friendly, and I meet a few people. All because I did my morning pages.

I started doing morning pages in April of last year, and I’ve maybe missed only a few days since then. I don’t have to think about doing morning pages or worry about whether or not I’ll have enough time, because I know that I will make time to do them.

I know that I will make time to do them, because I know how I feel if I don’t do them. If I don’t do them, I’ll feel like I got up on the wrong side of the bed. I’ll feel like I haven’t bathed in days. I’ll feel like my shoes are on the wrong feet. I’ll feel like I’m going into an important meeting with red onion breath.

Clarity. I feel more clear-headed when I do morning pages. All those thoughts that whirl around in my head – thoughts of fear, anxiety, irritation, excitement, joy, nervousness – once those thoughts get moving, they create a shitstorm. I practice meditation, but in meditation you watch the shitstorm until it passes. Morning pages provides a proper outlet for that shitstorm. It allows me to type furiously on the computer to the point that my partner complains about the noise.

Creativity. Free-writing has been a great practice for articulating some of my blog post ideas without actually writing a blog post. I can write about it in a way that’s awkward, trashy, and nonsensical and tease the ideas out of my head. The shitstorm is usually composed of thoughts like, What the hell am I doing?, and, I will never be good enough. Morning pages allows me to put all that aside, and in that space new, creative ideas begin to emerge.

Feeling right with myself. Morning pages are now an essential function of my life. I have to do them every day, otherwise I feel out of sorts. And unlike alcohol, heroin, or gambling this compulsive habit is not destructive. This compulsive habit makes me write every day.

Morning pages makes you practice and that’s fantastic. But it does so much more than that, too. When the shitstorm tries to knock you off your path, morning pages sets you right.

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