On October 26th this year, I decided to start writing my own version of daily pages. One two page spread, every weekday, no matter what. If I was late, or missed, I had to make it up. No skipping. No censoring. Whatever was in my head went on the page. Domestic tornadoes, family stuff, existential angst, my Hewig and Hamilton obsessions, books I’ve been reading, thoughts on books I’ve been writing. Sims. Tea. Random thoughts. Writer things. Domestic warrior queen things. Me things. Yesterday, I started on the last signature of this volume. It’s taken me seven months. So, what did I learn?
A few things. One, setting aside time to record my thoughts is essential for anchoring myself in the work of writing. Nobody is going to see this, except for whoever goes through my stuff when I have completed my life cycle (not planning on that anytime soon, so there will be many more of these volumes) so Hypercritical Gremlins are not allowed. This is for me, and me alone. This is putting on my own oxygen mask before tending others. I remember dragging my Martian-death-flu-riddled body into my office because I needed to fill pages, dagnabit. I’m not going to guess how much sense those pages made (probably not a lot) but getting the discipline in there was and is key.
When I realized I was on the last signature, I remembered that I hadn’t taken any pictures of the blank pages, in what is, hands down, my favorite notebook I’ve ever used for this purpose. I’ve attempted others, but this is the first one I’ve come this close to filling, and, as the habit is now entrenched, I don’t see anything coming between me and that.
Since yesterday was a domestic tornado day, I didn’t get to my pages until after 5PM, but even with groceries to be put away, all family members arriving home at the same time, and Skye needing to collect on back food and scritches for the time we were away, my first priority was – pages. Also pictures, because I wanted to save some record of what the book looked like before I got my hands on it. My lobster friend, Dashing John, (thanks, Mary) wanted to help out, because this book does not open flat.
I still don’t have any ideas for Paris-set stories, but as soon as I saw this gorgeous Punch Studio specimen, I knew this one was special. It became my morning pages book, and I’m going to miss it. I have candidates for its successor, and at least one of them is also Paris-themed, but it won’t be the same, and that has me feeling nostalgic.
This particular book has seen me through a lot. New relationships come into my life, and old ones gone out of it. The ups and downs of Real Life Romance Hero’s health and his move to a new job. The aggravation of my Sims 3 installation going wonky, and ripping the whole thing out and putting basegame back in, because yes, I do need gaming. Physical things. Spiritual things. Writing things. It’s a time capsule, and now that Friday will mean it’s time to close that capsule, and put it on the shelf of completed notebooks, I don’t want to let it go. I work a lot of stuff out on these pages. Some of it, I’m still working.
But back to things I’ve learned. The visuals on the page anchor me. Even when I don’t know what I’m going to write on a given morning, there’s an image right there. I can write about that. Do I like the colors? The art? Do I know what that landmark is? What ink do I want to use on this page? What kind of pen? The visual connection matters, and, since the designs cycle through the four shown, I’m not tempted to keep on going when I reach the end of my “assignment.” Different picture, different ideas, different day. Close the book, put it back on the shelf and get thee to some novel work.
Some days, novel things do find their way into my morning pages, and that’s okay, too. Whatever is in my head is what goes down here, and I can move things to my novel books later and/or continue them there. There are days when Hero and/or Heroine poke their heads over my shoulder and want to talk, and there are days when I write a bullet point list of what’s in the refrigerator. Most days are somewhere in between.
I’ve loved watching the bookmark (a piece of paper from a Punch Studio notepad) move from the front of the book, to the back. I’ve loved the harmony of the art not being the same, but page and marker agreeing with each other, and I will probably tuck that notepad page into the back cover of this book when I’m done. They’ve bonded by now. The next book will have something else as its marker. I don’t know if any of the candidates have built in ribbon bookmarks, or I should say, I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is that I’m excited about starting the new book, deciding what pen(s) I will use, what color(s) of ink, probably intuitively when it’s time to plunk myself down on Monday morning and begin the new adventure. This new book will know Her Last First Kiss as the current project, not a pile of angsty possibilities. This new book will know the me that I am now, evidence of the me who lived in the past seven months tucked away with the sheet from the notepad. Some months from this coming Monday, I will tuck that book away, too, and start on another. Circle of stationery? Maybe so, but what I do know is that I’ve found something that works for me, and isn’t that the whole reason we try new disciplines in the first place?