Here’s the thing - I’m not sure ‘failure’ really exists.
Some things we know for sure; there is doing and not doing. Meeting set expectations and not meeting them. But the word failure feels very far from actual outcomes of those things. Oftentimes, when we stop doing the thing, or don’t meet the expectations (set by us/society/others etc) there is so much learning in the endeavor, so much growth, that to call it a failure would be a massive disservice.
Related - when things end, or we ‘quit’, hopefully it just means that needs are no longer being met, that the thing we think we’ve ‘failed’ at is actually just no longer serving us.
I think listening and realising that is the opposite of failure. It’s commitment to self, something which we can never see as a failure
Earlier on in the year, I started sharing my experience of writing morning pages on IG, and then I came and wrote about them here. Seeing as we’re about to hit the start of a New Year and this is a practice many might find enticing when self reflection is rife, I thought I’d revisit, answer some questions and make all that info a little more succinct. Let’s do it!
A note - if you don’t have The Artists Way (the book that this practice is from)I recommend getting it. The pages are generally easier (you’ll have more to write about for starters) with it, although it can be done without.
1) What need are you trying to fulfill here?
Let’s start with the big stuff, shall we? At the start of any creative (or otherwise) endeavor, I think it’s extremely helpful if you know what you want from it. What need are the pages going to help you fulfill? For many, myself included, they give space, time and a connection to self, everyday. Sounds good right?! It is! Now, what it is that you think they’ll do for you? Give you a dedicated practice in writing? A small slice of time for just you? Self reflection after a difficult year? Get specific. Hold it in mind. I’d even go so far as to suggest writing it down in the journal you intend to use - I’m here because x.
When times get hard or you lose your way, this could guide you back to yourself. When you’re struggling to hold on to the practice, come back to your need and whether this is servicing it.
2) I really need time to myself. Where will I find the time?
The question I’m most asked. And I’m going to quote Meg here who was asked some similar questions about a fitness app she was sharing and she responded with one of my favorite answers ever - WHAT IS YOUR REAL QUESTION THOUGH*? Because look, I get it. We are all time poor. Many of us are women with small children. Time is not unlimited. However. Time we do have. I sort of want to point to our collective phone use being insanely high in hours per day but also, look, I’m not trying to be a dick. I get it. Buuuuuuut I also know that you can priorotize 10-20 minutes somewhere in the day for yourself and if you’re telling yourself you can’t, there are bigger things at play. A resistance to this kind of thing is it’s own compass - listen to what it’s telling you. Go back to the need. Is there another need that’s more pressing for you right now? Are you fulfilling the need in a different way already? Are you scared to give yourself this time? A commitment (to self) is also super important in this, and I’ve written more on that further down.
*I think the ‘real question’ here that Meg alludes to is one of self worth/hierarchy of needs. But that’s a conversation for another time….
3) Do I really have to do this in the morning?
I wrote more about this here, suffice to say that no - you don’t. HOWEVER. The main point here is to priorotize it. This gets harder and harder for most people as the day goes on. If you’re going to show up to the pages late at night, exhausted and in need of sleep as opposed to creative output - it’s going to make sticking to it harder (imo), and the rewards will probably lessen. That’s true of anything we can pour energy into, right? But, If the only time you can do this is whenever you can do this, cool. Try that, see what works. I would say that switching up the rhythm of pages is generally more successful once you’ve established commitment. And after 3 years of practice, my most useful output has and still does, come from doing it first thing. If you want to evolve the pages for more artistic needs, or develop a stronger connection between conscious and subconscious, it really is worth carving space first thing, eg as soon as you wake.
4) ok ok, I’m in. What do I need?
ONE A commitment to self, to the process, to showing up. I heard Cory Muscara talk on his podcast about a contract he makes with himself at the start of new challenges (find it here) and if I were about to start this for the first time I’d put this at the front of my notebook FOR SURE. Choose a time frame (a week, a month) and keep coming back for all that time, wholeheartedly.
TWO a notebook and pen. You probably already have something lying around BUT choosing something a bit special here is good. This is a practice, a ritual for yourself. Choose something pleasurable! We all know how sexy good paper can be; seduce yourself into to coming back. (FYI I use this in M, always plain paper and black ink, choosing a different colour book each time I finish the last.)
THREE 10 -20 minutes to yourself. See above and here for more answers on how/when etc.
FOUR - some support is great. Talking to others also working their way through The Artists Way, someone who has been there before, someone you can bitch or share breakthroughs with. I’m starting a ‘support group’ lol on IG, come and find us there!
Ok, dassit. That’s all you need! You got this. And remember, let me know how it’s going!
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