The process of writing is one of the best ways to sort real emotions from troublesome nonsense like rationalizations, defense mechanisms, and other bullshit. I first experienced this via The Artist’s Way, by Julie Cameron, whose greatest tool may be what the author calls Morning Pages. (Her writing can get a bit woo woo, but the tools are really smart.)
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only… Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page.”
You’re not allowed to read them until the end of, say, six weeks. Then you have to slog your way through the whole boring, repetitive, cringe-inducing thing. But it’s worth it, because it’s not a notebook anymore. It’s a spiral-bound bullshit detector; a college-ruled catharsis.
Among other things, the pages can clarify what you’re unhappy with (what needs to change), what you’re happy with (what to prioritize or pursue), and what you fear (what you need to confront).
Getting things down in black and white helps to solidify your thoughts, instead of allowing them to float around in your mind, shifting and endlessly distracting.
Sometimes I type a long, take-no-prisoners, swear-shouting RANT when wrestling with something in particular (think: sending the universe an angry drunk text). When I read it a day or two later after the intense emotions have subsided, the petty things— hyperbole, overblown emotions, all of my own bullshit— fairly leap off the page.
The process of recognizing and editing out said bullshit helps me to arrive at a clearer truth; see the situation in a more objective way. It’s a sort of psychological mirror if you’re willing to see yourself critically; a very helpful tool for humans.
* * *
Here are some additional articles about the benefits of writing—
Science Shows Writers Have a Serious Advantage Over the Rest of Us
Why You Should Write All the Time
And of writing by hand—
Four Benefits of Writing by Hand
This post is a follow-up to an earlier post regarding writing, which was more specifically regarding longhand, On Writing, Part I— Handwriting.