I’ve had my fair share of writer’s block over the years. It happens, even to those who aren’t even “writers.” How many of us have inched closer to a deadline for an essay and still sat in front of a computer with a blank document and an even more blank expression on our face? I’ve had many days where I just look at the ceiling and pray that the combination of coffee and luck will propel me through the process, hoping that, in the end, I’ll create something extraordinary when I push myself out of the long trudge. Sometimes, it works, and I do create something greater than I predicted. But others … well, let’s just forget about those times. The point is, writer’s block is the worst, and to be completely honest with you, I’ve had it since the beginning of quarantine. There are some sporadic moments where a light bulb goes off in my head, and I write it down but never get around to carrying it out, in part because I’ll just put it off to the point where I don’t even care to write about it anymore. Motivation = gone. Now, I can only look back at this year and sulk because I’m a writer who hasn’t written as much as I nearly should have during all the free time I had in this pandemic.
So, I recently read an article that I think, if not every person, every writer needs to read. Titled “How I Stopped Sitting Around All Day Seething With Jealousy of My Peers,” Mandy Stadtmiller graciously takes readers through her life journey, mostly in professional and creative aspects, and how the main thing holding her back was herself. But in this article, she also highlights the practice of “doing morning pages.” It’s a practice many people have taken up (there’s even a website dedicated to it called 750words.com), and it basically consists of spending 20 minutes, preferably when you first wake up, and writing three pages filled with your stream of consciousness. Don’t pause to think if the words will come out perfectly or if they even make sense; just write everything on your mind. Put pen to paper or finger to keyboard and let it all out. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Stadtmiller states, “Stop saying ‘if only.’ Write it instead. Honestly, write anything you like in your morning pages, just don’t censor it or hold back. That’s yourself that you are reading.”
I started writing morning pages in the beginning of October. In these few weeks, I’ve already seen a positive influence, firstly because I’ve written more in the last month than I have all of 2020. But secondly and most importantly, after reading my morning pages over, I see myself in an outside perspective – my goals, my frustrations, my small joys, my big joys, my sadness, my anger. I see myself and all the thoughts I’m used to bottling up; they’re all written down, thus giving me the strength to tackle them head-on. I’ve manifested how my days turn out by simply writing it down and feeling the emotions deeply in that moment. Then, later that week, I’ll reread the pages and say, “It’s funny that I said I wanted to do this. And I actually accomplished it. It’s done and over with. Wow, is it really that easy?” Funny how that works, isn’t it? It’s as if, suddenly, I’m in charge of my own fate, when I really always have been.
I encourage everyone to read the article to gain more insight and see if the feeling of waiting and waiting and waiting for something to happen that Stadtmiller describes are harbored within you. They only exist to make you feel stuck and halt your progress. And if that’s the case, morning pages might be for you, too.
Also, just for the record, this is my longest editor’s note and the easiest one I’ve written yet.