One day, do this, a little experiment: close your doors and sit in your room, and just start writing your thoughts - whatsoever comes into your mind. Don't change them, because you need not show this paper to anybody. Just go on writing for ten minutes, and then look at them. This is what your thinking is. If you look at them, you will think this is some kind of madman's work. If you show that piece of paper to your most intimate friend, he will also look at you and think, "Have you gone crazy?" And the situation is the same with him too, but we go on hiding the craziness. We have faces, and behind those faces are madmen.
From 'No Water, No Moon: Reflections on Zen' by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
I read the above a few days after starting Morning Pages, and took great pleasure in its serendipitous appropriateness. It seems the perfect way to introduce my reflections on the end of a month of writing (something, anything) for about half an hour every morning. I'm pleased and surprised to find that I've managed this every day, particularly because I'm actually rather enjoying it. As an enormous geek, I've celebrated this accomplishment by producing a spreadsheet showing each day's word count (mean: 692), time taken (mean: 34 mins) and thus words per minute (mean: 21). Then, out of further curiosity, I loosely categorised each entry by topic or topics contained therein; and having done that, of course, I produced graphs of all the above. Luckily I'm a merciful geek, so I will only share one of them with you:
As you can see, a significant number of pages are about Morning Pages, partially because they're a novelty and I've been trying to work out exactly what I'm supposed to be doing, what I'm trying to achieve, and whether they're having any effect. Also, of course, faced with a blank page (or screen, in my case) it's a classic lazy writer's technique to start writing about the fact that you're writing. Musing on NaBloPoMo and its effects have contributed strongly to the Blogging count. Angst has edged ahead of Happiness, but this does not reflect my mood (even my mood in the morning) so much as a tendency to try to think my way though negative feelings (a process which morning pages seem to aid) whereas if I'm happy I'll often just write about fun things rather than happiness itself. Work obviously features strongly: it's still relatively novel, and on some mornings I've done little but blog, sleep and work since the previous day's page. It also seems that my Saturdays at Oxfam normally generate something worth mentioning the following morning. Anecdotes and Life are two sides of the same coin: anecdotes being entertaining incidents that may subsequently find their way into this journal, life is the tiresome 'then I did this, then I did that' stuff that I try not to inflict on anyone but myself. I'm sure few will be surprised to see Sex looms large on enough mornings to merit its own category. I also realised quite early on that this exercise made an ideal Dream journal, so I've been recording them here. It's obviously had an effect, because I don't typically remember my dreams very well (I blame waking up to the radio) but since I started noting them down they've been easier to fix in my mind.
So there we go. Clearly an exercise that I find interesting, though I fear my rambling may not have inspired this interest in others, graph notwithstanding. Still, if you find yourself, for whatever reason, with half an hour to kill in the mornings I'd thoroughly recommend giving writing a go. I certainly intend to keep this up for the foreseeable future, though not probably not to subject you all to any more analyses. Unless it produces a really good graph...