It’s been more than a month since I started morning pages.
Everyday, I open a Google Doc. I do not start my day till I’ve written 750 words. These pages all get saved in a GDrive folder, and the snippets that I like get posted to this blog. The especially great snippets will be moved to Medium. This stock and flow was inspired by Robin Sloan’s fantastic SnarkMarket piece: the GDrive folder is the flow, the blog a somewhat slower flow. The stock? A little non-existent at the moment.
Quick sidebar: Sloan was on the YCombinator podcast recently talking about pushing the boundaries of media formats, and about finding a middle ground between dystopianist sci fi and a more uplifting fiction. He’s a really refreshing speaker, jokey and informal yet thoughtful and well-read. 5/5 would recommend, and I’m on the lookout for other interviews of his.
Second sidebar: I’ve been captivated by this idea of stock and flow in the systems I see everywhere around us. Donella Meadows has the best description of this. I’d love to trace the lineage of her ideas in Thinking in Systems to Sloan’s version of it.
Third sidebar: this.
I’ve noticed several things since I began morning pages.
One, I’m starting to build up a backlog of interesting ideas that I have to write about. There is no longer the struggle of the blank page. Instead, it is the grappling with which of the thoughts from the day before that I should write about. No longer is my writing dominated by inward-looking journalling. Instead, I now find myself considering re-introducing personal journaling into the mix to balance the essays I write on other topics.
Two, I’ve moved from the free flow, just-get-words-on-a-page mode, to a more thoughtful editing mode. This relates to point #1: I am confident that words are coming, so my priority has now switched to writing well. Klinkenberg’s genre of the sentence is now something I work on more. (Third sidebar: Robin Sloan says on the podcast that he tries to “take care with the sentences”, and I think that’s a lovely way to capture this mindset.)
No longer do I just hit publish on the best pieces; instead, I save them down, meaning to edit and rewrite them, to get them ready for publishing. I’m skeptical about this practice of mine: what if this means the best material just sits in the folder? No, I shan’t do this. I will hit publish on them on this blog, and should I get to editing them and adding illustrations and other materials, they can go on Medium or a more public forum, to become my stock.
I’ve certainly found that morning pages have improved my conversations. I now have a font of ideas, semi-fleshed out from having first put them to writing myself. The challenge is now to act on these ideas, to make them, as an artist would.
But this is a natural process, and it’ll take time, and that’s okay.