Writing as self-care.
Every morning when I wake up, I have a tall drink of water and then I sit down to write. I write three pages of stream-of-consciousness words that sometimes make sense and other times, I’m sure, make me sound like a madwoman. I’m okay with both. These three pages first thing in my day keep me sane and that has always been enough of a reason to do them. Unlike my professional ghostwriting and even personal writing with a bit more structure, I find my morning pages the most accessible of all of my wordplay. The point is not to get it right; the point is to write. And continue writing until the three pages are full. Then—and only then—is it time to get on with the rest of the day.
I can’t hide from myself on the page when I write in this way. I can’t edit out the undesirable and unattractive. I can’t even escape the possibility of filling up line upon line of my cahier with noise that might drown out what is actually asking to be transcribed. Trust me, I have tried. By the midway point—at the latest—all things ugly and uncomfortable and insecure start to scribble their way across the page. I stay in this process despite its sometimes painful way of exorcising my daily demons. I keep writing even when I am tired and uninspired. Especially then; when documenting the mundane feels its heaviest, I am convinced is when the most essential work is being done.
The morning pages have been a part of my early day routine for years. I did them long before I ever thought of myself as a writer. In fact, I credit them with leading me to writing as a viable tool for expression and later, as a way to generate income. Prior to that, I was a performance artist and craftsperson who preferred to work with the abstract and unusual. I used to joke that I went to art school instead of going to therapy. In truth, I did both and still, artistic expression has offered me a catharsis that therapy could not. When I stumbled upon writing, I didn’t have any objectives in mind. My art school experience eventually lead me to emotional and physical burnout and writing became a way for me to explore creative expression once more while giving my previous artistic outlets wide berth.
Which brings me to today. I decided just last week that Mondays I would write. For myself. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are for my ghostwriting and coaching clients and Friday is for school work. Mondays, however, are now mine to fill with words. This feels equally exhilarating and intimidating and I’m trying to just be with those sensations as they rise and fall within my body. When I sat down to write this morning it was with the intention of unpacking anger—of which I have ample amounts—and orienting myself within the socio-political landscape of emotional labour and expression. I couldn’t do it. Every time I tried a different angle it felt forced, inauthentic or preachy. So I gave up.
Instead, I’m going to write about writing and let that be enough. I’ll ground what I share in my experiences and applications of it—and others experiences should those stories come my way—and let that be enough as well. If you choose to use the information and practices here to mend your broken heart or address systems of oppression or discover your own professional writing capabilities, I support you in your decision. Writing is— and continues to be—the biggest act of self-care I have been able to keep up. It is the most heart healing and the most soul soothing. It brings clarity in times of darkness and humanity in times of conflict. Our words can become our legacy if only we allow ourselves to slow down and sit down and write. Not to get anywhere but to arrive in the moment that we’re already in.
In the coming months, I’ll be writing about my process, the practices I’m doing and the ways that it is affecting my work and my life. Always an offer, I encourage you to take what resonates and let go of the rest. Mostly, I encourage you to write. Not as a special thing that you do when you have time or feel ready; as a daily act of self-care. As a way to process your emotions, experiences and ideas. We are all of us trying to figure out this tumultuous time in herstory and our place within it. So, let’s do that. Let’s write and write and clear our heads of clutter and find the words we need to feel seen and heard. Let’s write.
MY CURRENT READING LIST:
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron
Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg
Emotional Intimacy: A Comprehensive Guide to Connecting to the Power of Your Emotions by Robert Augustus Masters
The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McLaren
Your Body Knows the Answer: Using Your Felt Sense to Solve Problems, Effect Change, and Liberate Creativity by David I. Rome
The Place That Scares You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh