Keep the Pen Moving

girl writing
hand writing in green ink

hand writing in notebook

All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble…. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. This “outgrowth” proved on further investigation to require a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest appeared on the patient’s horizon, and through this broadening of his or her outlook the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms but faded when confronted with a new and stronger life urge.
—Carl Jung

When you start doing Morning Pages, you’ll be surprised at the things you find lurking within. And, just as you feel refreshed when you step out of the shower, your mind, heart, and soul will feel refreshed after writing Morning Pages. You will walk a little lighter. Your mind will be more focused on the task(s) at hand. Your thinking will be more clear. Your heart will be open — so you may find yourself more patient or less irritated with the day’s events.
—Website discussing Julia Cameron’s morning pages

I’ve been thinking a lot about Bob’s comment to last week’s post: “My big problem is that I just do not do well with any kind of conflict in my life. Any time I think that someone is upset with me or disappointed in me, it really tears me up.” He raises an important point…getting some perspective and seeing things rationally is important, but it’s not enough. We still have to respect our feelings and deal with them. Feelings are, they’re not to be judged but listened to. And when they’re deeply heard, they shift by themselves.

I’ll talk more about this in future posts. For now I’ll just say free association writing is one of the most effective ways of dealing with feelings…and to get the kind of shift Carl Jung is talking about. Just get some paper and a pencil or a pen (or do it on the computer if you prefer) and let it all out. Keep the pen (or pencil or fingers) moving. Don’t worry about punctuation or spelling…just write down anything that comes into your mind. The important thing is not to judge or censure, just put it all down. If things come up that you would rather not share with anyone else, then shred the paper afterwards. The idea is to get in touch with the deepest parts of you. You’ll be surprised what you learn. And you’ll be surprised at the clarity and integration that comes from the process.

What about you? Have you ever tried free-association writing? How do you deal with your feelings? This site is about sharing, so please tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

Picture of girl writing by arkworld via Flickr. Used with permission. All rights reserved by owner.
Picture of hand writing in green ink by snorrlax via Flickr. Used with permission. All rights reserved by owner.
Picture of hand writing in notebook by bgblogging via Flickr. Creative Commons license.

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9 Responses to Keep the Pen Moving

  1. Tina Su says:

    Thanks for inspiring me.Great Post!

    Love & Gratitude,
    Tina
    Think Simple. Be Decisive.
    ~ Productivity, Motivation & Happiness

  2. Bob says:

    Maybe we should try some free association blogging. Now that would be interesting!

  3. Old Soul says:

    It’s a bit difficult for me to do… my “breakthrough” thoughts as I call them are had when I have no paper or pen to write. I’ve given up on holding onto them because once I can write, another person is there, or it feels forced.

    The times when I’m able to write generally help me sleep. I notice when I do, I’m able to dream. It’s rare that I have dreams I can remember, even vaguely.

  4. Secret Simon says:

    I think that dealing with feelings is the single most important factor in personal development. They can get in the way of everything else! And by dealing with them, I mean allowing them to be expressed and so releasing them (rather than suppressing them). I’m always on the lookout for more ways to do this, as it’s a particular problem of mine. I’ve written about a few such methods on my blog.

    Thanks for mentioning Julia Cameron’s work in this context. I know of some artists (and bloggers!) who do her morning pages, and I understand that she initially developed this technique to aid artistic creativity(?) but I hadn’t thought of it specifically for releasing feelings before. Of course it makes sense. I should try it – though I fear that my starting attempts will consist mainly of swear words!

  5. barbara says:

    I’ve been journaling for years and use free association routinely. Writing is a powerful healer and over the course of days, weeks, etc. it is amazing how many healthy ideas come up. I couple this by reading a pertinent book on the problem I’m experiencing and taking notes right in my journal.. When I review, it’s all there in one easy to find package.

  6. Jean says:

    Thanks for coming by, Tina.

    Simon and Barbara,
    As I understand it, Simon, Cameron suggests morning pages to get feelings out of the way so the creative ideas have room to come up. Is that your experience, Barbara? It works that way for me.

    Bob,
    I doubt that anyone would want to read my free-association writing. It reminds me of Natalie Goldberg, when she gave a neighbor a big stack of her journals. Natalie was about to throw them away, when the neighbor asked for them. Afterwards she said if Natalie could write such drivel and still become well-known as a writer, anyone could. :)

    I also find it hard to believe we wouldn’t edit what we write if we knew someone else might read it. And that would defeat the whole purpose. The idea of writing regularly without judgment is to build up trust so the deepest ideas feel safe to come up into the light of day.

    Thank you all for commenting…I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to answer.

  7. bikehikebabe says:

    I want to do Morning Pages. That’s just one more thing added to my over extended–can’t ever do it all–housework–exercise, stretches, weight lifting that I must do to hold back my osteo-arthritis pain. Growing old is for the the birds. However I will not give in to it. Challenge! I’ve written down dreams which have helped me. I’ve written down angry thoughts when someone did something dishonest or hurt my feelings. I’m going to try M. Pages after my daily hike, when I’m feeling good and again when I’m tired, can’t do it all & feeling frustrated. ” Let go” of most of it!

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