Why I think you should add journalling to your to-do list

Why I love Julia Cameron's Morning Pages

Hi Lovelies,

Happy Hump Day!

I hope you are all staying well and keeping on going through the week - I have to say, this is proving easier here than last week!

Celebrate those small wins :)

Why on earth would I want/need to add journaling to my to do list?

Maybe you read the subject line for this message and wondered why I was suggesting adding something to a to do list; readers of this and my blog will know I’m an advocate of the less is more approach. Of the ‘done list’.

However, this suggestion is very much in line with that; it is a way for you to prioritise yourself, your headspace, and what you want to get done in a day. Writing a to-do list that is based firmly in an understanding of what is likely to be possible given your energy, commitments and how you are feeling.

Bear with me; I used to be a MAJOR journalling sceptic.

Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages

I can’t remember the exact point where I discovered Julia Cameron’s writing on writing and her ‘Morning Pages’, but it was around the time I began to seriously engage with creative writing.

That was around 2 years ago when I was absolutely burnt out; not fully admitting it yet, but searching for another way to get back into my writing.

If you have not come across Julia Cameron, or morning pages, I really urge you to engage. Essentially, this is about taking 10-15 minutes (or 3 pages) to free write in a notebook - about where you are at in the morning.

“There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–
they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about
anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes
only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand”. 

You might think that it won’t translate to academic writing or life. Yet, it does.

Much of what Cameron writes about (especially in her other book, The Sound of Paper) is about how we do our writing - our creative work - in snatched, interrupted moments.

Sound familiar?

We need to write to make sense of worlds - our own - as well as what we research.

Adapting journalling for academic writing life

I use Cameron’s morning pages as she suggests - free writing when I need to get all of those ideas out - but I also use it more strategically. And take away any negative connotations from that word! It can simply mean that we are more focussed on where we want to go and feel in a day - in a way that we can see our own momentum.

I use a set of basic prompts depending on what I’m trying to work my way into on a given day. If I’m gearing up to write, I’ll ask myself - what is it that came into my head to write and why. Why now? Why do I want to write it? Who do I want to read it?

Then I think about how much. How much is reasonable to expect of myself on that day.

It might only be the 3 morning pages.

Those handwritten, informal, disordered scrawls can be an excellent foundation - even one sentence - for the next time you can get in front of a keyboard.

Journalling as permission

I used to be sceptical of journalling - bundling it up into the plethora of ‘self-help’ tools that simply individualise and internalise self-blame for failing to be productive enough.

But, it does not need to be that. It can be a powerful way to prioritise yourself and your mind. Your ideas before everyone else gets a part of your attention.

To write something that might never be read and be ok with that.

To warm up.

To know that you can write. So you can do it again.

Give yourself permission to take 15 minutes or 3 pages of space for you.

Speak to you on Friday.