Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: Morning Pages For Organization?

This past winter, as part of a feeble attempt to create a minimalist office, I've been weeding out and then discarding many, many...many...years of writers' journals. Or workbooks, as I sometimes thought of them, according to something I read in one of them last night. This will be the subject of another blog post, some time in the future. Who knows when?

Today what I want to write about is what I've been finding in the 2002-03 journal and how it relates to a post I stumbled upon this week from Melissa Wiley, writing at Medium, though in the childlit blog world she is known for Here in the Bonny Glen.

I have to say my mind has been on hover these last few weeks, and I haven't been doing much with it. So going through old journals is a perfect not much thing to do with a hovering mind. Then one day I went on to my Feedly bloglist, thinking that would be not much I could do with my hovering mind, too. And I found Melissa's post that connected with something I've been seeing in this particular journal of mine.

This is one of those it's-supposed-to-happen things.

Morning Pages And Distractions

So Melissa's Medium piece is called Digital Decluttering: A Diary, which is all about getting a grip on digital distractions. Definitely a good read for people trying to manage time.What became particularly interesting for me, though, is that Melissa started doing the morning pages recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way. "Three pages of longhand stream-of-consciousness writing every morning before any outside input—no screens, no conversation, not even a book," Melissa says.

As it turns out, in my 2002-2003 journal/workbook I write often of doing morning pages. In fact, I was doing them in the journal, using morning pages to free-write on projects I was working on. If recollection serves me, that's  not what you're supposed to do with morning pages. I was also using them to whine about my life. From what I can make out in the journal--there is a lot of chaotic material in there--I was trying to do them for six weeks, because I'd read that six weeks of a behavior is a habit. Hahahahaha. Sure.

In Digital Decluttering, Melissa  says "In these daily writing sessions I found myself lamenting my diminished attention span, my unread bookstack, my wasted time."

I did, too!  "Yesterday was a serious bust..." "Disastrous few days." "Yesterday didn't go too well."

Melissa used morning pages to help her stay organized. "The cardinal rule of Morning Pages is they have to come first, before you do anything else," she wrote...in bold.  "...I began moving to my studio to write my Morning Pages and then I’d roll straight into work on the book." Morning pages made it possible for her to skip checking in on the news and social media first thing instead of working.

I was trying to use them for practical, organizational reasons, also. "In order to justify the morning pages, they really have to increase my work output. My output professionally. I also have to justify them family-wise, by becoming more productive in the house." "Well, working on morning pages is a better thing to do before TKD (taekwondo) then surfing the Net. I guess."

But We Really Didn't Like Morning Pages

Towards the end of her Medium post, Melissa says, "Morning Pages had been effective at helping me shift some habits. But I never liked writing them; after a few weeks they felt routine and dull. I kept up the practice because it had borne good fruit. But I was thrilled to exchange them for something that suits me far better: a daily practice of reading poetry first and then opening my notebook to see what happens."

I'm not sure how far I was into my six-month plan (as I indicated earlier, my journals are pretty chaotic), when I wrote, "I'm really beginning to hate this. I'm not feeling any more creative. Nor productive. Must find ways to get more done. Like what?"

Melissa's use of morning pages led to a work practice she finds satisfying.  I don't recall what morning pages led to for me. Perhaps the next journal will reveal something.

Remember, this was in 2002 or 2003. I started Time Management Tuesday at the beginning of 2012. Yes, it is a sad statement that I was still struggling with productivity ten years later. But I'm one of those people who believes that the struggle is everything, so...Hurray! I was still struggling!

So What Is My Takeaway From This, Gail?

Go ahead and check out Melissa's post, particularly the section toward the end about poetry, and think about whether plunging into some type of writing...any kind of writing..., either first thing in the morning or first thing in your writing time, will help you stay focused on work.

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