This note comes from Sally Maxwell. Sally attended a Slow Stitching Movement lecture in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Sally wrote to me as she began her daily ‘process pages’ that she began writing.
Mark, I was a part of the audience for The Slow Stitching Movement presentation in Fredericksburg VA and began the writings that you suggested this morning. As I started, I wondered how I would know that it was “working” but by the end of the three pages, I had inspiration!
Today, the topic of morning pages was “finishing.” I had decided to ruminate on that yesterday. Now, on my morning pages: I decided that finishing will help with finishing, for me if not for you (or “nothing succeeds like success”). And my affirmation today is “PRACTICE.”
You said that you don’t re-read what you’ve written but I think that I will. You see, I can’t begin on my work right away because I have to take care of my family. I decided to highlight with a marker those passages that I want to re-visit. The idea being that when I’m ready to sit down and work, I can remember what I wanted to work ON and go right to it.
So, first day, good result! Thanks for the inspiration!”
I’m thrilled that you took your Process Pages to heart and have begun writing, but as I had mentioned during my talk and in my Slow Stitching Movement webinar, finding any inspiration or clarity in your daily Process Pages comes and goes, with the only real healing, insightful, and meaningful results being delivered after invested time and daily appointments with pen and paper.
I’m not surprised that an idea come to you in your first day of process writing. Finding inspiration and new ideas in your daily written pages is the easy part. Creative people tend to find ideas in anything that they open their imaginative minds to. But finding the purpose of your creativity, as well as your unique vision into what makes you tick, only comes with both a commitment to your daily, free, uninhibited writing — and time. Yes, I’m sorry to say that, like everything else, putting in the writing time every single day is the only way net amazing creative personal and stitching results from this exercise.
Your Process Writing is helping you to simply readjust your ‘inner clock’ by making your conscious through your hand written words and become aware of your creative process. The act of this daily abstract writing is a passive and powerful way to heal the hurts, doubts, fears, and anxieties of your past so you can begin to openly create and channel your creative power into projects that speak specifically to you without the hindrance of nervousness, hesitation, or self-defeating lethargy that has usurped your energy and confidence.
You Might Not Get What You Are Looking For
Ironically, you will find that the longer you practice your daily, uninhibited 3-pages of process writing, the more you will come to realize there is no “there”, there. You will not come to the end of a rainbow, you will not find the meaning of life, you will not find the answer to all of your creative questions, nor will you find that all of your ideas and stitching risks, designs, or learned techniques, are dynamic . . . or even good.
As you continue writing each day, with what you are going to find is the clarity in your creativity that has been dodging you. It will also help you gain a perspective on what’s going on both in your external day to day life as well as your inner emotional life and experience. You will also begin to reap unbridled imagination and ideas that might not have ever even occurred to you before. Keep writing to gain perspective on what’s going on around you, what’s holding you back and what might propel you in the future manifestations of your ideas.
In a nutshell, I am asking you to get all of your crap out on paper so that you have cleared the table for the flights of fantasy that you need in creative stitching and to heal your life.
My Path to Process Writing
Daily process writing is simple. It is so simple you don’t even need to think about or about what you’re doing or writing. It should be as automatic and habit forming as washing your face, eating breakfast, or brushing your teeth. Wake up, grab some paper, and write. Just follow these guidelines (AKA what I do):
- I write every morning as soon as I get out of bed. Before breakfast, before making the bed, before turning on the computer, I begin my daily writing. Yes, I let the dogs out for their morning constitution, I pour myself a cup of coffee, then I sit at my desk until my three written pages are completed. Frankly, I don’t care where you write but for me, my desk is the best place.
- Don’t judge or worry about the time involved. Sometimes my process pages take me 20-minutes for 3 pages. Other times, 3 pages may take me an hour or so to write. Sometimes I’m hot, hot, hot, and other times, I have nothing to say (but I write something anyway). Your 3 pages will take you as long as they take you. Don’t keep time, just let whatever comes out come out on your page. Process!
- I write in longhand, using a favorite pen (specifically, a Pilot G-2, black pen) because I find I can handwrite more quickly using that pen for some reason.
- I write in a bound journal-type notebook now, but for years I only used the front, back, and front of two pieces of looseleaf notebook paper for my daily process writing.
- I throw out all the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation that I learned in school. This is not an English test, and it’s not a query letter for a publication. It is literally a free, loose, stream of consciousness kind of writing.
- I’m a sloppy mess. I like to think I have pretty nice handwriting but you would never know it if you looked at my process pages. It’s about getting of the junk and rubbish out of your head. It will never be about if you’re producing a pretty, or even a legible, page of writing.
- I am not thoughtful about what I write. I write whatever comes into my head And I write it down quickly. Think of it as literally scribbling your thoughts, any and all thoughts, on paper.
- I have been writing my daily ‘morning pages’, thanks to The Artist’s Way author, Julia Cameron, for many years. I used to try to write something profound in the hope that someday what I had written would be a lesson for the ages. Once I really got into writing as a process – much like The Slow Stitching Movement directs us to ‘stitch as process’ — I would literally put my daily writing into a paper shredder almost immediately after I had written my last word for the morning. I am no longer tempted to read what I have written (not that I could due to the sloppiness, lack of grammar, punctuation, etc.). That’s why a bound journal actually works for me at this point. If you are struggling with wanting to read what you had written (that’s your ego tawkin’), know that it will do you no good in terms of your creative or stitching life. I strongly suggest you rip up, shred, or burn what you write. Only by immediately destroying what you have written will you feel the freedom to write anything and everything, no matter how vile and obnoxious, or every illegal fantasy, onto your pages.
- I write three pages – no more, no less – each day.
- Sometimes, when I have absolutely nothing to write bubbling out of my noggin, I will start writing, “I have nothing to write today. I hate writing these pages. I wish something would come to me. I have nothing to write today. I have nothing to write today.…” I find this “bitch writing”, to be like priming a pump. After several lines of doing nothing but that kind of nonsensical complaint writing, does something actually come to me that I can begin writing about. Do not stop writing because you have nothing to write about. Write about having nothing to write about!
Now, Sally, in terms of you going back to read your pages and highlighting the passages that interest you or may interest you in the future, may I suggest that you keep a little sticky note next to your pages and quickly jot down inspirational ideas as they come to you, like a list.
Your process pages are for just that – – process. Don’t go back to read your writing, do not judge your writing as being good writing or bad writing. Do not highlight. Do not make your writing an unsafe place to really spew your emotional garbage because you know you will revisit it. Simply write your little pearls of wisdom on the additional tablet, very quickly, then get back to finishing up your progress pages. Truth be known, I often make a deal with myself, especially on difficult days, that once my pen hits the paper it can not be lifted until a page change, or I’m finished.
How Do You Know It’s Working?
You don’t. You may never be conscious how your process pages are working are working for you. You will, however, begin to see changes in your physical, emotional, and creative life. It smashes your creative blocks. It puts your anxiety and self-esteem issues in their proper place and context. You will find that new and better ideas keep popping up. You are giving your brain a workout. You are creating space in your brain that has been cluttered with a lot of junk you’ve been holding onto but now writing down and tossing away (just an FYI — sometimes I write down and toss away the same issues that keep coming up, over and over and over and over and over again, until I begin to see some peace associated with it). All of this will not happen in a day, a week, six months, or a year. Just keep writing.
Like practicing the art of slow stitching, throwing yourself into the moment, your process writing can change your life and shower you with the gifts you’ve been seeking.
The SLOW STITCHING MOVEMENT Webinar
Is Now Available ON-DEMAND!
At last! The much talked about SLOW STITCHING MOVEMENT webinar is now available ON DEMAND for download directly to your computer. This is a recording of the record-breaking webinar hosted by Mark Lipinski in June. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/1xE2l34
Thank you Mark!
The artists way…Julia Cameron
Xxoo Miracles happen Carol
Julia Cameron is linked in my post and is featured on the webinar, but this kind of ‘journaling’ actually began in 12-step rooms. Writing and Writing Meetings are one of the tools of recovery. Also, books on Automatic Writing were popular in the 1960s during the “Age of Aquarius” years! LOL xoxom
Such a great post — and you are SO right about the feeling of shredding the writing (and knowing that no one else will read the stuff you’ve downloaded from your head)!!
Thanks Mark. This is coming my way at a really good time.
I have been wanting to do this writing for a long time, but I am afraid of the things that might come out… Giving myself permission to destroy the pages would certainly help! And the separate list is a great idea too, I can keep track of ideas to include in the book that I want to write… someday lol
Mark, thank you for your insights, and your inspiration over the years. You have been one of my ‘go to’ people, and you didn’t even know it!