Ten Journals

Just a little over a week ago, I wrote the last word on the last page of my tenth Nanami Paper journal, a 480-page Crossfield, to be specific. Something about wrapping up my tenth volume of Morning Pages made me haul them all out, arrange them in chronological order, then date the spines. It was a satisfying activity—one that seemed worthy of fireworks. Or at least a sparkler.

Prior to June 2016, when this practice became a true morning ritual, I managed to jot down entries for a handful of days, then sputtered and fizzled out for months or years. The three composition notebooks below each contain a few pages of writing from the 80’s and 90’s, then fell dormant, relegated to the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. One notebook contains some details of a trip to Germany in the late 80’s. (I did not write THE YEAR when I dated the pages because I was young and thought I’d always remember. Now I’m decades older and do not.)

The entries are very much of the “what we did, where we went” variety that just seemed too mundane at the time, which is why I always quit. Sometimes I wrote nothing more than the date. (????)

In those early attempts, I’m repeatedly swearing to close the gap between entries but it took another 17 years for that to actually happen. (Why rush?!)

In Germany, I dutifully logged my Traveler’s Cheques and all of the food we ate at the house of the family friends we stayed with for a few days.

(Apparently I came home with most of them.)
(That full pot of tea on 7/13 played havoc with my bladder in heavy traffic on the way to the airport. The memory of that “my back teeth are floating” episode has not dimmed.)

Reading through a few long-forgotten entries this morning made me laugh. Maybe I should’ve kept writing. What I found so stressful then is kind of funny now.

Fast-forward to June 2016, when Tim Wasem, on The Erasable Podcast, mentioned how his days always go better when he writes morning pages. His words flipped a switch that had been stuck in the off position for years. I wanted my days to go better, so this seemed worth a shot.

Since June 2016, I roll out of bed around 4:30 am on weekdays—a little later on the weekends—and write for an hour or two. No judgment. No pausing. Pure stream-of-consciousness. Meditations. Complaints. Celebrations. Challenges. Worries. Joys. Gratitude. The only time I missed a chunk of days was when I had shoulder surgery in February 2020. Even then I made some left-handed scribbly attempts.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how coffee factors into all of the this. I came into my coffee habit late in life—just before I started doing all of this journaling—always cold-brewed, always black. Back when I was writing two entries a year, I didn’t drink coffee. Coincidence? I think not. Both the iced black coffee and wet ink on the page are what pry me out of bed. Without the coffee, I’d grind to a screeching halt, I have no doubt.

Ten journals. Nearly 5000 pages. More coffee than ink, but still a lot of ink. Does my day go better because of this practice? On balance, yes, because even if my day completely derails later on, I’ve enjoyed the stillness of the dark morning while laying down fresh ink on the wide-open page.

Here’s to ten more. <Lights that sparkler.>

17 thoughts on “Ten Journals

  1. Good for you, completing your 10th notebook of morning pages. Everything I’ve read about morning pages over the years makes them sound very chaotic to me. Are they? And if they are, does the act of writing it down help to focus thought, or does it simply provide an environment in which chaotic thought can flourish?

    Your post makes me wonder if I have consistently rejected morning pages because I prefer to think in an organised manner, or if it’s simply that I am a life-long tea-drinker!

    • I consider myself an organized person as well, but just write down whatever is on my mind. No paragraph breaks, different pens, different inks. Kind of cleansing! I think tea would be a great incentive as well!

  2. Ah the Germany food list. I have a stomach ache now. Cold meats! Rum and Coke (but just a tiny bit of Coke because it’s not good for you)! I’m glad you wrote that all down.

  3. Thanks for your wonderful blog; I am trying to get to Fisher of Pens and can’t seem to open the site – do you know if something has happened to them

    • I bought them one or two at a time and there are some slight differences–lined vs. dot-grid vs. blank. The Seven Seas books are hard to get now but I have a stash of blanks now due to the Tomoe River paper situation. I should be good for quite awhile. After that, we’ll see!

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