Posted tagged ‘journalling’

Writing for What?

August 14, 2022

writing penOver 30 years ago, I started free-form journaling nearly every morning.  Back then, Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way (which was the hot self-help creative guide) recommended this writing these Morning Pages as part of her program to recover your inner artist.  The secret ingredient in Morning Pages is that you write the stream of consciousness, no thinking please and let whatever shows up find its way to the paper.  Accoutrements like grammar and spelling don’t matter.  Nor does what your inner critic and your conscience disapprove of … it takes some practice but eventually you can shut them down or ignore them, a useful life-skill few of us are taught. (more…)

Perfect Words

February 19, 2021

This morning I wrote in my journal, as I do most mornings.   This habit is what remains of something I started 25 years ago called Morning Pages, a practice invented by Julia Cameron, author of The Artists Way to help revive your creative self.   As she describes it, Morning Pages are three pages of stream of consciousness writing, putting down whatever comes to mind without concern for grammar, form or content.   As you might imagine, it is a practice that leads you down some passages you didn’t know existed.  It also teaches you to write without interference from your Inner Critic, that nasty fellow prides himself on telling you that your writing sucks.  These days I’m down to two pages most days, and sometimes I run out of patience with the process and stop after one.  The philosophy gets pretty heavy in my pages some days, as it did today.   I was writing about the beauty in the world on one hand and the pain and ugliness on the other.   I wrote I don’t know how to ______  the good and the bad in order to believe, as I prefer to, that the world is basically good.   The blank was the space for a Perfect Word, one that danced tantalizingly on the tip of my tongue but refused to make an appearance. (more…)

Just My Type

May 29, 2014

ten reasons longhand is better from an earlier post

For almost twenty years, I have … on and off … started my day with a form of freeform journaling dubbed Morning Pages by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.  In the early years, it was almost always on … for the last few, frequently off.   I have found it a useful way to slow down the maelstrom in my head and see what’s really going on in there, perhaps even consider what I’d like to have going on in there.  My day goes better when I take the time, yet now, when I have more time at my disposal, I find myself skipping Morning Pages.  There was a time that I took skipping MPs, as I call them, a sign that I was avoiding something and perhaps that’s true.  But I also have a frustrating aspect to my personality that I am sometimes inclined to neglect exactly those behaviors that benefit me the most.   I’ve noted here before that no single activity calms me more than meditation and yet it remains at most an occasional component of my life.   I’ve noticed that I’ve skipped Morning Pages more since I became a regular blogger.  I wonder if perhaps posting hasn’t replaced Morning Pages as my morning write.  I’ll say this … producing a post I like stops the maelstrom in my head and is creatively more fulfilling than Morning Pages but it is nowhere as useful in revealing the thoughts within that maelstrom, partly because some of those thoughts don’t belong in the public domain.   I suppose it’s a possibility that after twenty years, there are no new thoughts within the maelstrom which makes the hour or so it takes to do MPs just plain boring.  Nah. (more…)

Almost Autumn

September 28, 2013

autumn sky

For perhaps twenty years, I’ve used our local parks as a periodic retreat from the bustle of life, a time to write, read, pray and meditate.  Or sometimes, just sit quietly and watch the  world go by.  In my big industry days, I arose early and stopped by a park on my way to work.  Although I’ve been fortunate to have jobs where some tardiness was tolerated, weekdays were always a little rushed so my Saturday mornings in the park became particularly valued.  At this point in my life, my schedule is more flexible but old habits persist.  Saturday mornings are still special. (more…)

Liberal Arts

June 12, 2013

artsI am an engineer.  I have an engineering education that is as far from what we used to call Liberal Arts as Eminem is from Frank Sinatra.   My classes were filled with equations and arcane terminology that meant nothing to my Liberal Arts friends.  My freshman year at Stevens Institute of Technology, the only non-engineering class I took was Humanities, and odd mix of literature and composition meant to make us well-rounded.  When I transferred to the University of Connecticut, engineering required a few more electives.  I took sociology, psychology and something called the Philosophy of Mathematics, what I considered bullshit courses.  Oh, yeah.  I took Theater.  Funny thing, that.   My drawings for a set design were chosen by the professor for the spring production.   While we were building the set, he asked from across the room, Where did you go to school your freshman year, Bud?   It was a moment I hadn’t been looking forward to … our beloved instructor had a reputation for disliking engineers and grading them harshly.   I went to Stevens Institute of Technology, I said quietly.   There was a long pause, then sarcastically, That’s a fine institute of liberal education.   I did, however, ace the course.  In graduate school, where I (more…)

Question. Answer.

June 5, 2013

Q_AFor the last several months, I have been working with a new sponsor.   No, I haven’t dumped the dear friend who taught me so much through my twenty years working the 12-Steps, I’ve just added a second mentor who lives locally, one I can meet with every week and see at my meetings.  It gives me a level of accountability that I can’t get long distance and I communicate better in person than on the phone.  He’s younger than I am and has fewer years in program, as we like to say.  It’s a nice antidote to the kind of inflexibility that can set into an old brain.   We’ve begun working through the Steps again in a book that didn’t even exist when I first did them with my first sponsor.  Each chapter covers a Step and ends with a set of questions.  My new sponsor told me, If you were a newcomer, I’d have you journal on each question but I’ve never worked with someone with 20 years in the program.   I said, That sounds good to me. (more…)

Write Now

May 29, 2013

writing penLast week, a few friends and I were talking about obsessions and compulsions.  I commented that I can be a little obsessive (or is it compulsive?) about posting every day on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog.  OK, I don’t make it every day but I come close, and if morning comes and I haven’t posted, I can get a bit frantic.  Sit down and Write Now, my Inner Obsessive-Compulsive tells me.  Sometimes, the only solution is Forced Writing, sitting down at the keyboard and writing something.  I have a love-hate relationship with Forced Writing, or more correctly, a hate-love relationship.  I hate when I’m sitting there pecking at the keys and getting nothing but I hate it even more when I’ve spent 30 minutes writing a topic that sucks.  Do I start over or … as my business partner likes to say … polish the turd?  Then every now and then, something I really like shows up.  I REALLY love when that happens, enough, even, to tolerate the times I hate it.   Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had writer’s block, especially when I’m working on something long and intricate like a (long) short story or a novel.  There, I can get wrapped around the axle on characterization or plotting.  That’s one of the reasons I like very short pieces and, especially, blogging.  If I bang away on the keyboard for an hour or so, I’m likely to produce something acceptable … and occasionally, exceptional.   When that happens, it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s exceptional.   It is the best of the creative experience. (more…)

A Letter to Yourself

April 24, 2013

writing penIt has been a long couple of weeks.  You’ve been working fourteen hours a day, Saturdays, too, trying to get a proposal out the door.  Your boss, Gunther, seems perfectly oblivious to the amount of time you’re putting in and the engineers whose stilted prose you’re editing into a polished document want to argue about every change.  You’ve been slipping out of work at 5:00 three days a week so you can go to Jeremy’s soccer practice then going back afterwards.  When you tried to give him a little help from the sidelines … Pass the ball, Jer, don’t dribble so much … he gave you one of his looks then pouted for the rest of practice.  When your wife, Suzie, said, He’s had a long day.  Go easy on him, you snapped at her.  Today, you went off to work without a goodbye from either one of them and Gunther’s waiting in your office with a list of mandatory suggestions for your proposal.  If someone doesn’t appreciate you soon, you may do something worse than snap at your wife.   So, let me ask you.  Who knows better how hard you’ve been working or all the extra things you’ve been doing to make this proposal a winner?   Who knows how exhausting it is to go to that soccer field then trudge back into work at night?  Who knows exactly what you need to hear?  It ain’t Gunther, that’s for sure, although he usually comes through at raise time.  And once she gets over being mad, Suzie will probably apologize and say something like, I know you’re working hard … but it’s not enough.  Nope.  Only one person knows exactly what to say.  It’s time for A Letter to Yourself. (more…)

Telling Your Own Story

March 20, 2013

storiesEvery four to six weeks, I sit down with a therapist-friend.  We’ve been doing this for quite a long time, so I know her first question will be a variant of, What’s going on since we last talked?  Sometimes, I’ve thought about my answer in advance … sometimes I just wing it.  I’ll tell her the triumphs (usually little), the failures (also usually little), the highlight and lowlights, and how I’ve dealt with each.  I’ll talk about how I’ve dealt with the cast of characters in my life and about my moods.  By the time fifty minutes have passed, I’ll have told the story of the days since I saw her last.  She may offer a few comments … You seem a little depressed or You seem at peace this week … but what benefits me most is seeing the daily events of my life in the context of the whole story.  I get to see patterns.   I get to see what’s working and what’s not.  As a person who can sometimes define his life by the down times, it’s helpful to see what my mood has been like over time.  Most days, if you ask me, How are you? I’d answer based on the emotion of the moment.  Leaving my friend’s office, I know How I am.   I may not tell you, choosing to offer instead the automatic Fine, but I’ll know. (more…)

Fancy Journals

February 6, 2013

green journalWhen I started journalling … a habit that later became Morning Pages … I purchased a few bound journals at Borders.  I quickly found, though, that I was inclined to try to write something appropriate to the journal’s binding, that is, something beautiful instead of the sort of putting out the garbage that journalling can turn out to be.  Two dollar spiral-bound, college-ruled notebooks from Target turned out to be better suited to my Morning Pages but because my family knows I journal, I still regularly receive nicely bound journals as gifts.  So, if you were to poke through my office bookcases, you’d find an assortment of these tucked away among the books.  Most have a only few pages filled, remnants of some project that I thought would be perfect for a fancy journal then lost interest in.  This year’s gift, a black Moleskin journal given to me by my daughter, is my Project Book, were I keep track of my projects for the year, writing down progress each day.  In theory, anyway.  There is a 85% chance my Project Book will end up in the bookshelves with only a few pages filled. (more…)