Alternative to Morning Pages: Voice Recordings

In her wonderful book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests that writers write three pages every morning. Just write. Don’t think about grammar or complete thoughts. Write whatever comes into your mind. I found this to be a good “loosening” tool for writing, back when I had time to do it.

Now, I struggle—fight, scheme—to make time in my schedule for my real writing, i.e. my Work in Progress. Morning pages would take time away from the limited amount I have for my story world, where I struggle with my characters’ issues, and my own.

My own issues include grappling with the tools of the writer’s craft which, adequately done, will enable me to render the story I’m trying to tell. Expertly done, they will enable me to create a saleable work of art.

That said, I do understand the need for morning pages. Depending on what gets poured out, they can, potentially, lead to greater self-awareness. Gaining clear self-awareness, and an understanding of our destiny, is the great purpose of our lives.

Let me never be so busy that I neglect to reflect! Because if I do not reflect, I do not grow as a human being. My gifts as a writer are diminished as well. There is less of me to give.

So instead of writing morning pages, I carry a pocket voice recorder with me on my jogs. When I’m not jogging (which is most of the time), it’s in my purse. On my commute, I will often take out the recorder and pour out my thoughts.

I always begin with the date, and then launch in. It’s instructive to listen to the recordings over time to see what issues I was struggling with, and how I resolved them, and how quickly. Speed is important to me. I do not want to be "broken down" for long.

There are always issues. My life is a never-ending rollercoaster of struggles. I expect the same to be true of anyone attempting to accomplish something outside the ordinary routines of daily life.

Often, I am on a long, slow, upward climb toward some end. Then, once I’ve achieved the goal, I enjoy an exhilarating, if brief, ride back down. I take very few moments to rest, and then I start the inevitable climb again toward the next big (for me) achievement.

How do you deal with your issues? Do you find morning pages useful? Do you use a voice recorder? Other ideas?


Flying Adventure: Elk River, Idaho

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. My husband bought me what you see at left: a noise cancelling headset for the airplane, a Zulu model by Lightspeed. Now we both have them, and let me tell you, they're wonderful. Typically, headsets start to give you a headache after wearing them for a couple of hours. These are so well padded, and they cancel out noise so well, that your head feels perfectly fine once you're on the ground again.

We flew to Elk River, Idaho, as planned. Elk River is up in the mountains, and the air strip is a private, grass strip, not one that an inexperienced pilot would dare to fly into, or out from. Heading into Elk River, around 10:00 am, the air was reasonably calm, but by the time we left again at 2:30 pm, the thermals had picked up, which are up-drafts and down-drafts, and are typical of mid-summer, afternoon weather. What it means that we were kicked about mightily. My husband and I have been flying since we were 22 years old; we've been in a number of scary situations. This was by no means a dangerous one, however I did need to keep reminding myself to breathe, and to unclench my fists.

Here I am, sitting next to the airplane, in Elk River, while hubby is walking up the airstrip, determining where his "go" and "no-go" markers are for when we take off again later that afternoon.

I happened to be reading (actually, I finished reading, yesterday, another delightful book by Elizabeth Berg): The Last Time I Saw You, about a 40-year high school reunion, which I can definitely relate to, however ... good grief, are we really that old? Elizabeth Berg is about six years older than I am (according to Wickipedia). I felt she didn't quite get my generation right, but close. And I always love her characters, as I do not live an urban, suburban, or even small-town life. I find it totally charming to read about people who do.

 Hubby and me standing in front of one of the three falls at Elk River. We were with my son and his wife, their two kids and some friends of their kids.

Later, we flew home and, as planned, had pizza with our daughter, her husband and their three kids, as well as our son and his family.

It turned out, however that the pizza place I'd read about isn't opening until October. So we ate at another local pizzarea, Rocky Mountain Pizza, in Moscow, Idaho.

I feel bad about being in such a bad mood about the mess of re-roofing (and posting about it!), when my husband and son-in-law are up there on the roof, doing all of the backbreaking work. By contrast, I did housework for only seven hours on Saturday, and they're on the roof for 12-hours a day, and probably will continue to be, all of this week. My hubbie is hoping thkey'll finish by the Fourth of July. We had hoped to fly to Astoria, Washington, McCall, Idaho, or possibly even Yellowstone Park over the fourth, but it looks like the re-roofing project will be keeping us closer to home.

Picture of my son-in-law carrying a 65-pound packet up to the top of the roof. It's a good thing he lifts weights for a couple of hours each day, and has been doing it all of his adult life. Even so, it's quite a heave-ho! to get each packet up. Consider that he'll be hoisting a couple tons of roofing materials up to the top, and you have to admire his strength and stamina.

Love of my life, on the roof. Like my son-in-law, he is also a bit of a Hercules, with energy that is legendary within our family. Even my son-in-law, the weightlifter, envies "Dad's" energy.

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