For the month of December, join hosts Girlxoxo, Traveling with T and Estella’s Revenge for their annual #AMonthofFaves blog event—a fun way to recap the year that was. They have every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out, and you can join in anytime! More details.
December 12th – What Worked this Year and/or What Didn’t. What habits, routines or rituals worked for you this year – either something you kept doing – or something new that you started. What did you try that didn’t work … or what did you used to do that no longer works for you.
I’m only going to mention one thing because I do go on sometimes.
Ever since reading Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones in my first college English class, I’ve been an on-again off-again daily diarist. I would write every day for a few weeks and then not touch my journal for couple months. Usually, my journal entries were only a page in length (if that), squeezed in at the end of the day. They were a hasty check-in.
Some time in 2017, “morning pages” appeared on my radar. Morning pages are three pages written longhand, first thing every morning. The practice is part of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program. Disclosure: I haven’t read The Artist’s Way and don’t intend to, but I have bought her book because, well, I’ve been doing morning pages for about a year now.
At first the notion seemed a little overboard to me. Three pages? Longhand? In the morning? On a lark, I decided last December 17th to give it a try. I had a 300 page journal that I had started on Jan. 1, 2017 that still had 70 pages left (and that included notes I’d taken at WesterCon). I decided if I wrote three pages every morning for the rest of December, I could guilt-free buy a new journal for 2018. The habit stuck.
My morning pages are usually a combination of a weather report, dream journal, gratitude journal, and anxiety box (put minor worries “in a box” to be dealt with later). They’re also about what I did yesterday, what I have to do today, what movies I watched, what books I’m having a hard time reviewing, random thought about random subjects, and (rarely) bits of fiction. Weirdly, writing three pages a day—that investment of effort and time (30-45 minutes)—makes me want to be more consistent about doing it. I’ve missed a couple days here and there, mostly because of things that needed to be done in the morning. I considered doing pages online or just in a text document, but I like the meditative quality of writing by hand, even when my arthritis is being obnoxious.
It’s hard for me to say if there have been any concrete benefits from morning pages. Have I been more focused or more creative this year? Have I been calmer? And if I have been, is it because of morning pages? I don’t know. I do like the quieter start to my day. I don’t use my phone for anything other than being a phone, so I’ve never checked my email/social media from bed, but firing up an internet browser was the first thing I did in the morning after putting the coffee on. Now it’s not. In an era when it’s very easy to get worked up about things online, it’s nice to start the day peacefully and to take some time to get my feet under me.
I was a little afraid when I started that this would be a pricey endeavor. I like the 8’x6′ journals and they can be expensive. So, here are my journaling pro-tips:
- If you have a large used book store in your area, check there for “used” blank journals. People get journals they don’t want as gifts. The blue, green, and yellow flowered journal ($6.50) and the black journal ($6) where both previously owned and completely intact aside from one ripped out page.
- I’ve prefer cheaper softbound journals. As long as the pages stay in the book, I’m good, and a looser binding means that the journal will lay flat. The BLAH BLAH journal has been my favorite. I bought it for $3 at a dollar store around back-to-school time. Second favorite is the floral one down front from Michael’s (the crafts place) for $5. (Okay maybe super pricey journals are nice too, but the cheap ones have the advantage that I’m not afraid to write in them.)
- Pens can also be a cost. I don’t know how many I’ve gone through this year. I’ve found that I like PaperMate’s InkJoy 300RTs. They’re smooth, comfortable, and relatively cheap.