I was dragged into doing personal writing kicking and screaming all the way. Many years ago, I had a mentor with whom I would meet to talk about what was going on in my life. He was someone that I called upon to assist me to sort out my current concerns. When I would poise a problem I was having to him, he would usually reply by asking me if I had written about the problem. My reply would be no and I just wanted to talk to him about it. This became the regular verbal dance we did every time we spoke until one day when he answered my question with, "I’ll tell you what, I am not going to discuss this with you until you go home and write about it!" No amount of protestations would get him to budge. I was more than quite peeved, to say the least. (Actually, since this is the PG version, I won’t say what I said.)

On the way home, I stopped at my neighborhood stationary store and bought on of those 6"x9" spiral notebooks and a ball point pen and went home (still fuming) and wrote out my problem. For some reason, once I wrote out the problem the solution became quite obvious. He was right; the first step to problem solving is writing it out. I have been writing ever since. Twenty years and many filled notebooks later, I still have a spiral notebook with a pen sitting in the spiral, tucked into my mattress so I can write in it, in bed, before I retire every night.

I journal the events of the day, my feelings about those events and my feelings at that moment about me and the other cast members in that play called "my life." It is a real taking stock type of exercise. It is an automatic writing exercise. What my mind is thinking my hand is writing. My conscious mind is an idle observer of this process. Spelling and grammar are of little importance. I do not erase or blot out anything. If something needs correcting because it was the wrong word it gets a single line through it and the pen moves on. Since I started doing this type of writing, I have found that I get to sleep faster because my mind no longer replays the day and my feelings, over and over again. For some reason, once it goes down on the paper, my mind can let go of the thought. Also, I notice that if I wrote down some problem that was of concern to me, I usually wake up with the answer. Doing this writing on a daily basis keeps me constantly in tough with my progress on the projects I am doing, allows me to fine tune the game plans to make winning more of a possibility and keeps me in touch with feelings so that there is less chance that my judgment will be clouded by them. My strong suggestion would be to put doing nightly writing high on your "to do" list.

Two months ago I started participation in a workshop that follows the suggestions of "The Artist’s Way" by Julia Cameron. The book’s first suggestion is to write three full-sized notebook pages first thing every morning. She calls this "the Morning Pages." It is also a train-of-thought, automatic writing exercise. The difference between this one and my night time writing is that this is not intended to be a journal. It has no parameters and no boundaries. It is a vehicle for creativity to abound. It can be anything the mind wants to produce; writing, poetry, drawing, whatever. The only caveat is that it must be three pages and it ought to be the first thing of the day. I am finding that when I am finished writing my mind is fully engaged and I am totally ready to take on the rest of the day. Prior to doing these Morning Papers, it was maybe noon before my mind was up to speed. Quite a difference! This writing requires more preplanning of schedules than the night writing because it takes me about an hour in the morning. I am now going to bed an hour earlier so that I can do the writing without pushing my day an hour back. That is a total revolution for this former night person which in itself is a testament to the benefits of writing the Morning Papers. By the way, both this article and the Communications Skill article flowed out of my pen and onto the "Morning Pages," an effortless and highly creative way of writing. Write On!

© 2007, Jason Wittman

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