I write every day. I type a lot, of course – sometimes up to 5000 words a day, even not counting emails. But I write too. Longhand. In a journal. Three pages every day, first thing in the morning.
It usually takes me about 20 minutes. Writing whatever comes into my head in all its jumbled, nonsensical and disordered glory clears away all of the crap that’s accumulated in my brain overnight, gets it out of my system and lets me start fresh.
My friend Trevor used to call it my morning ‘mental poo’. Which is kind of horrible – but entirely accurate. I prefer that metaphor about the guy who cuts down trees for a living, figuring out that he needs to take a little time each day to sharpen his saw. That’s what my morning pages routine is all about.
I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, on and off. Three pages a day. Not every single day, of course. In fact, I went for a while where I didn’t do it at all for all sorts of reasons. But I never got out of the habit. It always calls me back. The benefits are too great. I feel so much better and more – well… sane, I guess – when I write every morning.
It’s as much a health routine as anything else. A pressure release valve.
Just recently, I haven’t been writing every morning. And I’m missing it. But, ever one to look on the bright side, I’m considering it a good sign.
Because here’s the conundrum: as much as I love and rely upon the daily routine of writing, not doing it generally means that I’m doing something else so engrossing and all-encompassing that I simply do not get the chance. There’s so much amazing and exciting stuff going on that there just isn’t time. So much I need to do. That I have to do. That I want to do. That I GET to do.
That’s been happening a lot lately.
So… this is one of those strange indicators of the year for me. Am I having a nice 2014? Well, if I’m writing, then certainly all is well. If I’m not writing, I’m more than likely completely consumed in something I’m really excited about. Overwhelmed, actually.
Sooner or later, I’ll need to put words on the page again and empty my head – but if something is so important that it can derail my writing routine, then that’s usually a pretty good sign too.
But without wanting to take Trevor’s metaphor any further, I am certainly overdue. There’s so much in my brain right now, that if I don’t sit down and get it out, it’s going to cause problems. Trouble is, even though my saw needs sharpening – I can’t stop to do it right now because of all these trees that urgently need to be chopped down.
Yeah, okay. I’ll go get my pen.