How Morning Pages changed my brain

I’m having a hard year.

Things started falling apart in January, and by mid-year I was determined to do something. Anything. There was not a lot I had control over, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something I have been hearing about for years.

I admit I have not (yet) read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but basically everything I’ve heard about it praises Cameron’s concept of Morning Pages.

I’ve been doing Morning Pages since about mid-May 2015. At the time I was in the middle of a course on prosperity, and our coach challenged us to just try what she was suggesting. To commit to the process, in spite of what we might think is silly or outside our comfort zone. I approached Morning Pages the same way.

I began them when I was going through a giant life upheaval and I think I’ll always wonder how much harder that experience would have been without the quiet, calming, letting go practice of writing every morning.

I had heard about Morning Pages for years beforehand, but I always thought ‘I don’t have time for that’. The first week or so I timed myself — 20 minutes.

20 minutes of journaling instead of 20 minutes of Twitter? I can handle that.

In the months since I began, I’ve missed maybe a dozen days. The first one because I just couldn’t handle thinking about things for any more time. The others because I was traveling and already getting up VERY early.

WHY

Morning Pages are my form of meditation. I have so much going on in my brain at any given time, I have had an impossible time trying to do real meditation, but taking 20-30 minutes to empty my brain writing longhand helps in a very similar way.

I love this post about the benefits of morning pages. I have absolutely found the same thing to be true.

Granted, I don’t really have a control-level to test it against — my whole life was a disaster when I started. But I totally believe I would be more of an emotional wreck without the daily brain drain as I pour everything on to the pages.

It’s part “dear diary”, part walking myself through that day’s to-do list, part big-picture future dreaming. I don’t know that I have come to any lighting-strike-realizations, but I certainly feel more calm and more in control of my life after starting morning pages. Both VERY important considering how the first half of my 2015 was.

How I do it:

  • Silence. No music. No one else awake in the house.
  • I write the date and exact time at the top. My morning routine is important to me and my productivity, so recording that data is an easy way for me to keep on track. It also serves as the perfect writing prompt at times. “Late start this morning because …. ”  or “I love being up before the sun. I feel … ” or similar.
  • Same place every day.
  • This pen. This notebook. 3 sides of paper. Fast handwriting. No editing.

I never put it “away.” I never have to hunt it out. I don’t have to think. I just start the coffee, then sit in a nearby armchair where my notebook sits the rest of the day. I usually finish my 3 pages shortly after the coffee is done brewing.

I’ve missed some days, but they have pretty much all been when I was traveling and my schedule was thrown off.

I have been LOVING this practice. It has totally changed my brain for the better.

Further reading about Morning Pages here ….

Try it this week.

P.S. I’ve started this Pinterest board about Notebooks and Journaling. Have any more good resources for me?

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Creative challenge: 30 Days of Lists

Next Tuesday — one week from today — my favorite creative challenge begins again!

As a fun little warm-up to September’s challenge, we are hosting a blog hop!

I recently went on a coast-to-coast road trip (with cats!) so I had this list prompt down pat. No problem. In fact, before I even thought about this blog hop, I had been making notes to myself about what my road trip must-haves would be for next time.

List journaling creative challenge

This simple 3×4 journaling card will go in my Project Life spreads about that trip.

Supplies:

Some of our sponsors and ambassadors have posted about 30 Days of Lists today, so click through to each of their sites to see what they are Listing!

Best part? You are all invited to join us too. It is super easy to participate in the blog hop and any one can join in!

Here’s how to join:
— Visit the 30 Days of Lists March 2011 challenge site and choose a list prompt
— Complete your list prompt however you choose (digital, in your planner, elaborate 12×12 layout, art journaling, anything!)
— Post on your blog (or Instagram or somewhere else online)
— Leave a link to your list post in a comment HERE on our Facebook page!

Then, of course, be sure to click through to see how everyone else is listing.

We can’t wait to see what you make! And be sure you register to join us in September

P.S. I’m posting at Yes to New Adventures on tumblr

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How to be an Introvert: Attending Live Events

Last September I went to a writing mastermind, a world-building summit where I met with a handful of writers over 2 days and helped create an entire fictional world. It was AMAZING. I loved it and it totally shaped my career going forward.

And, I’ll be honest — it was scary as hell. I didn’t know ANY of the other people (8 of us total), and I was 100% the least experienced of any of them. I was very VERY nervous, and if it weren’t for Andrew insisting it would be best for me I would have talked myself out of it.

The same guys/company put on another writer event just a week+ ago. It was totally different in a lot of ways — focused on business instead of story, no Dave, and WAY more people.

Summit Attendees JPG

As an introvert, and an introvert that works from home and doesn’t have much in the way of co-workers, attending a live event is way way outside my comfort zone.

But I found a few ways to make it work without being totally spent and drained at the end of each day ….

How to attend live, in-person events when you’re an introvert:

Try to make sure you know AT LEAST 1 person going

This might mean planning ahead with a friend, or possibly reaching out to 1 or 2 people you know are attending. Online, ahead of time. In a 1-on-1 email basis.

Fortunately, I now work with Johnny and Sean (who led the weekend) as well as Monica and Garrett (who attended). Plus, since I actually did the planning and corresponding with attendees, they were all at least cursorily familiar to me. I didn’t feel like I was in a room made up ONLY of strangers.

And just that little bit of familiarity helped so much.

Sit in the corner

In the third image below, you’ll see a shot of the whole room. In about the middle of the image, at the very end of the table you’ll see a blue water bottle. That’s mine. That’s where I sat. In the corner, with my friend Monica next to me and no stranger sitting on the other side. That wasn’t 100% intentional (there actually was an empty chair on the other side of me when the weekend began), but it was very fortuitous.

This cornering of myself limited the amount of stimulation I was made to deal with at any given time, and allowed me to *almost* have ‘alone time’ in the middle of the full room. I didn’t feel drained from making small talk all the time. It worked out really well.

Let people approach you

The first morning, I came in, sat down in my corner, and three different people approached me to introduce themselves. If I didn’t write about it here, I really REALLY doubt any of the other attendees went home thinking, ‘That Amy girl didn’t proactively introduce herself to anyone.’ Who would know?

Instead, I STILL met new people, but one at a time, without feeling like I was bugging them or encroaching on their space or anything. I admit, I had an advantage because I organized the event and they all had an idea of who I am, but still.

Give yourself time

Time to open up, time to be alone, time to make new friends. Give yourself time in your hotel room at night, even if everyone else is staying up to chat. I stayed up MUCH later than I usually do all 3 nights I was in Austin. But each time I was very conscious about how I was feeling, how tired I was, if I would be better off sleeping more.

I still didn’t get a chance to REALLY talk to everyone there (the event was only 2 days), but I feel good about the way I did spend my time.

Really all these tips can be boiled down to — BE YOURSELF. Give yourself permission to be an introvert and try not to care what someone else might think about you.

I also realize that these tips make me sound cranky and anti-social. Which I absolutely am not. I don’t think any of the other 20+ people there would have ever thought I was being anti-social or trying to limit my exposure to them. It is all just a way of knowing myself, what I am comfortable with and in what environment I can best thrive.

Here are just a few photos from the weekend, so you can get a sense of the room and the amount of people in attendance. I’ll be going to a September event as well. It will be only 15 people, MOST of whom I already know. Easy :)

 Dave the Tapir -- Sterling & Stone Colonists Summit 2015 colonist  002 colonist  004 colonist  005

colonist  003 James  011

The guys want to put on a MUCH bigger 200-person event next spring! I’ll have to come up with a whole other set of tips for that!

What are your best tips for attending in-person events?

I want to start a small series of posts about living as an introvert! It’s a part of my personality I’ve only started to recognize and work with over the last couple years, and it’s fascinating to me. Check out my related Pinterest board here: How to be an Introvert

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5 easy ways to write about your childhood

I mentioned the other day that my grandmother passed away last week. My last living blood-relative grandmother is now gone (although, my grandfather’s wife is pretty fantastic). All the stories from Grandma Jaye’s long life are now gone.

It’s so cliche, I know. But I so wish that she had journaled more stories about her childhood. She was almost 6 years old when the stock market crashed in 1929. She remembers having to downsize to a smaller apartment sometime in the 1930s. She grew up in Ohio and worked in nightclubs during WWII (and did her share of entertaining soldiers and sailors).

Don’t let your own stories disappear over time …. Journal about your childhood this week.

write about your childhood

Pull out your photos

Hopefully you have at least a couple. I have a ton (or, rather, my mom has a ton and I need to get copies from her). Journal about what you are doing in that photo. Journal about who else is in the photo. Journal about what you are wearing, about how you got all your opposite-gender-cousin’s hand-me-downs. Journal about where you are, about how you lived 5 years in that house and only have 2 memories from it. Journal about who took the photos of your childhood. Journal about the visual, what you see.

amyReread your journals, letters, and hand-written notes

I used to have binders and binders full of hand-written notes from high school and at some point, during one of my dozen moves, I threw them out. AND I AM SO BUMMED. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Rereading letters you received, or your early diary entries or even school progress reports will help kickstart your memories and remind you of stories that you would like to write about now.

Review the media from that time period

What movies were in theaters during your childhood? What bands and music do you remember listening to? What books did you read over and over before bed? What stories were going on in the news that you have memories of?

Revisit the physical locations 

From your childhood home, to your school, to the 7-11 you walked to every afternoon in the summer to get a Slurpee. Here are some more tips on writing about your childhood home specifically.

Ask people who were there

Mom and Dad, yes, but what does your little brother remember about your 10th birthday party? What does your best friend remember about your 6th grade class trip? What about your babysitter? Your neighbor? Your Sunday School teacher?

BONUS: Register for MyDetails ecourse from Megan from Nerd Nest and Kristin from rukristin.

This ecourse has a TON of pre-class resources and new prompts begin May 4. Over the next seven weeks we will share with you twenty different creative prompts to document the details of your life.

You’ll be inspired by over 70 unique and exclusive MyDetails projects, 30+ of which are brand new to the 2015 Edition.

Megan and Kristin have spread the wealth and will be sharing projects in the form of mini-book pages, pocket page spreads, traditional scrapbook layouts, art journaling pages and more!

Return to these prompts again and again to document your details at any point. Return to them at a later date and translate them into documenting the details of the other important people in your life.

  I’ll be in the class! Hope to see you there!

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m15 30lists blog hop

Listing begins on Sunday! But today we wanted to share a peek at what kind of fun creative challenge you can expect in March.

Today is the 30 Days of Lists Blog Hop and you’re invited to join in on the fun!

What is a blog hop? A blog hop is basically when a lot of bloggers post about the same thing and encourage their readers to go visit the others as well.

Today we’re sharing list prompts taken from the (still free) March 2011 challenge!

This is my actual list from back then …. Things I am good at

30Lists  002

In case you can’t read my handwriting, the list reads:

  • wedding photography
  • writing
  • customer service
  • cooking
  • singing
  • making Andrew laugh
  • no drama
  • saving $
  • planning trips
  • scrapbooking and other creative-like activities
  • reading
  • academia

Now, five (!!) years later, the only thing I might change it to take off wedding photography (haven’t done it in years) and to add editing (learn more about what I offer here).

Otherwise, my life and activities and skills haven’t changed much.

Now, if only I could get paid for singing musicals loudly while I cook :)

Ambassadors & Sponsors taking part in the blog hop today:

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Go to the March 2011 30 Days of Lists site
  2. Choose one of those list prompts
  3. Create your list — on a post-it, digitally, art journal, however you like.
  4. Post your list in a blog post* today
  5. Share a link to your blog in the Blog Hop Facebook Post

*Don’t have a blog? Share your list on Instagram or Flickr and leave a link to your photo instead! That way, other Listers can find your work and see what list you selected.

DON’T FORGET: It’s not too late to register for the March 2015 edition of 30 Days of Lists – simply click here and you’re a few clicks away from accessing the private site and getting into the private Facebook group!

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GIVEAWAY: 30 Days of Lists archive bundle!

30ListsheaderNeed to spice up your personal journaling? Need some ideas for what parts of your story are worth recording?

We’d love for you to take part in a self-paced round of 30 Days of Lists. Another quick journaling challenge. Another opportunity to record YOUR STORY.

Not everyone can make a mini scrapbook every week or an art journal page every night.

30 Days of Lists is our encouragement and challenge to you that you CAN journal just something every day- even something as small as a list.

March 2011 is still available for free here.

There’s no wrong way to make a list – so even if you missed participating with the community the first time around, you can still grab the list prompts now and make your lists anyway you want!

ENTER BELOW to win the current 30 Days of Lists self-paced bundle (Septmber 2011 through September 2014)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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REGISTER: 30 Days of Lists December

December is one of the most magical times of the year. We haven’t always run a December listing challenge, and we won’t always in the future, but this year is special! Join us in December for another round of 30 Days of Lists. Another quick journaling challenge. Another opportunity to record YOUR STORY.

Not everyone can make a mini scrapbook every week or an art journal page every night. 30 Days of Lists is our encouragement and challenge to you that you CAN journal just something every day — even something as small as a list.

Every day through the month of December 2014 we will be sending out a list prompt – anything from weekend goals to celebrity crushes. At the end of the 30 days you’ll have a collection of entries creating a small snapshot of your life right now.

30Lists D14 Click Here to Register

Only 5-10 minutes per day are really needed. While you’re waiting for someone, or when you’re the passenger in the car. You can even download the list topics ahead of time to get a jump start!

That’s all.

Just write.

There’s no wrong way to do this and if you don’t like a prompt on a certain day, just change it.

incudeOnce you register you will receive an automatically downloadable file giving you access to sign-up for the exclusive email list for December 2014.

Upon subscribing to December’s exclusive list, you’ll have immediate access to:

  • private Facebook Group just for December #30Lists participants
  • printable download with ALL of December’s list topics (for those of you who want the topics ahead of time)

more

Throughout November, we’ll introduce:

  • tutorial on adding images to the Flickr group
  • tutorial on using the #30Lists hashtag for Instagram
  • tutorial on joining the community
  • introductions to our ambassadors
  • Kam and Amy’s individual 30Lists books
  • exclusive discounts from the team

Starting December 1st:

  • 1 new list topic will be emailed each morning
  • each day’s email will ALSO include the previous list prompts in case you missed any
  • list topics hosted by our ambassadors

D14 Click Here to Register Banner

Start stocking up on your sticky-notes, ordering notebooks from your favorite online sellers, or creating a journal of your own to house your lists, December 1st will be here before we know it.

The daily list prompts won’t start until December 1st, but you can trust us when we say that it’s an excellent idea to check the private blog regularly between now and then for tutorials, updates, and maybe a giveaway or two.

Also, it isn’t too early to get to know your fellow Listers!

Speaking of the list prompts, they will be arriving on a daily basis shortly after 2:00 a.m. Pacific time. If you would rather have all of the lists at once, look for that link in your first email after subscribing to the exclusive list.

clicktoregisterblue

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If anyone asks, I do know that no one really cares that I have a Master’s Degree in English. Yes, it’s an interesting talking point and theoretically, I *should* have been paid more at my last day job because I had it, but that never happened. Not that it mattered. My Master’s Degree didn’t really make me any better at the job than any of my co-workers.

My Master’s Degree would not help me get a job any more than a Bachelor’s would (except for teaching at a community college but I don’t have any teaching experience, so that’s out). My Master’s Degree gets me a *little* attention for potential editing clients, but since most of them are all indie authors all perfectly happy to operate outside of the traditional path, an advanced degree is not a must-have.

Sometimes I look at the total in school loans I still have due and think, “Man, that was a lot of money to spend on something no one cares about.” It seems illogical. Impractical.

But most of the time, even if I’m in the minority of thinking this, I believe that getting a Master’s Degree in English was my best investment.

Here’s why: I think that my experience in graduate school taught me the critical thinking, problem-solving and writing skills that have allowed me to build my blog and pursue my own path.

Hiring English majors seems like an easy choice for any industry. As I mentioned in a recent interview, “Let’s be honest. People are idiots. If you can write with proper spelling and grammar you are already ahead of a giant portion of America. If you can ALSO think critically (about a problem, text, etc) you’re doing even better.”

I got a few questions on social media about this, that I thought you all might be interested in:

What skills did you learn in traditional schooling that applies well to your non traditional career path?

Thinking. No, seriously. Graduate school in particular taught me how to think critically, how to examine all aspects of a problem, articulate the holes or flaws and come up with solutions. These are skills that anyone could use, but solo entrepreneurs in particular.

Would you recommend other bloggers getting a Masters?

Nope. Not unless you have a couple years of time to kill and someone else is paying for it. If you’re smart enough to get a graduate degree, you are also smart enough to teach yourself this stuff without going $30,000+ into debt.

Want to understand people? Read literary fiction. I feel like I have gleaned so many life lessons just from the Anne of Green Gables series.

Was it hard to shake off the academic dust from your subsequent writing?

Yes, ish? Since I had been blogging (read: casual writing) for years I think I had a pretty good balance away from the strict, formal academic writing. It’s nice, actually, that I learned about having a thesis, and making the subsequent paragraphs support that thesis. Not all that different from writing a sales page, actually.

So, yes, I know that getting a Master’s Degree in English and then following my current career path may not have been the most practical choice to most people, I still think that it was a solid investment. My full experience in college and how I feel about having a graduate degree in English is detailed more in this interview here.

Emily is collecting interviews from English majors, talking about how their degree has helped their current career. Check them out here.

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Writing resources

Since I started writing FOR REAL and committing to it, I’ve been collecting more writing tips from here and there.

NaNoWriMo begins on Saturday — I won’t be participating, personally. I will be revising my current work-in-progress instead. But many of these resources will still help me out and hopefully they can help you too! Use these for your scrapbook journaling, your blogging, your Week in the Life, your future-book-writing… anything!

And, finally, a full YouTube playlist from Dan Wells (of the Writing Excuses podcast)

P.S. For those of you keeping track, I decided last week that I was as close to done with my rough draft as I was going to get. I need to give my brain some distance. I tend to under-write, so I’m taking this week “off” and will begin with a heavy revision pass (probably adding another 20-30,000 words) on November 1.

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New author site launched!

I really am not trying to bombard you with my barely-there fiction writing career.

But this is the first time. I gotta tell you all about it, right?

So, officially this weekend, ATSchubert.com is up and running. Don’t expect a lot at first. A writing-specific bio. A mailing list. And not much more. But if you are interested in reading my future novels, definitely sign up for that list. I promise, I will only overtly ask for things here at L&R a couple times, and then keep the book/fiction news basically relegated to that site.

I have big plans.

A.T. Schubert

Tentative schedule:

  • short story appearing in an anthology at the end of October or beginning of November
  • Book 1 of the series I just started out by March 1
  • Book 2 of the same series hopefully out by June 1
  • Possibly a separate stand-alone book out sometime in those 9 months as well.

Wish me luck :)

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