This is part of a series of posts in which I talk about Morning Pages. I've been thinking about putting together a talk or maybe even a book and am going to test-drive these here for the next couple days.
"I've written this all before." That's the thought I had writing my Morning Pages today. If someone was bored enough, they could go back through the thousands of my Morning Pages and find multiple occasions of what I wrote this morning. My immediate reaction is that this is bad and embarrassing. Repetition can’t be good. What will people think?
Then I remember: no one will ever know. Well, except you reading this, but that’s okay.
Morning Pages have an audience of only one. I don’t have to worry about being redundant (or sloppy, or foolish, or even stupid) because they are just for me. Having that thought, “I’ve written this before,” is a good reminder that I may want to be thinking about something else or stretch the thought to something larger, but it’s not an indication that I need to hang my head or panic.
Repeating myself is one of the best ways I learn. I make things real to myself by repeating the words in my mind and on the page. That repetition accustoms me to the idea such that then bringing it out into the world is made easy. Repeating myself reduces my fear and anxiety.
There are many regular themes in my Morning Pages. These are ideas to which I return often because they still interest me and I know that I have not learned all I can about them. I go back, sift through my thinking again, and more often than not find some nugget worth saving. More than likely I’ll return to the topic again and again. It’s also likely that I’ll worry that I’m just rehashing old ideas.
It’s okay. They’re not for publication.
That said, this whole thing started midway down page two of my April 26, 2019 Morning Pages. I began writing then with the intent to create something. That intention and the idea were enough to start me moving toward this. Still, I knew that whatever I wrote in that last page and a half of Morning Pages would never see the light of anyone else’s day. That gave me the permission and understanding to be able to write one of Anne Lamott’s shitty first drafts.
Morning Pages aren’t usually even first drafts. They are thinking — writing by hand on paper with a pen might be the most elevated thinking possible. Morning Pages are the physical manifestation of thought. Thinking within the confines of your head, your ideas are wholly your own until you transform them and give them voice. My Morning Pages remain my own, but this transformed thought is ready to go out into the world.
I’m still thinking about how I was repeating myself this morning as I wrote and this comes to me as explanation: Do I repeat myself? Very well then, I repeat myself. I am large, I contain redundancies. And besides, no one is going to see them so I might as well repeat myself and learn something.