Hello, Morning Pages (Day 1)

Say hello to a new project, this one hopefully will last a lifetime.

Read on.

I just started reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron (buy at Amazon) and one of the things she says an artist must do is write three pages every day in the morning.

These three pages don’t need to be publishing quality prose and can be as simple as an unfiltered stream of thoughts that is not meant to be seen by anyone. And these are not related to any project that you are on. This is just penning whatever comes to your head. You know, brain vomits. Heck, she even says that you don’t have to publish this. She says that this exercise is like a meditative trance that you put yourself into, just that the object that you focus on is the words that come out of your head (and not breadth in most other meditative practices).

I think there is merit in doing this. My best work has happened when I have been regular. When I have been showing up without any expectation or an agenda. Even TNKS happened when I was writing every day on my blog and one of the posts couldn’t seem to end!

However, the thing with such projects is that I tend to lose interest after a bit. I don’t want to lose interest with this one. Writing is THAT important to me! May be I can appoint a few monitors? Say Vivek. Or Arti. Or Krishna. The day I don’t post this in the first half (that’s the point of the morning pages), I would consider it default and I would get penalized for it. Say 1000 bucks for each day I miss? And yeah, I ought to do this even if I am traveling. If I am alive, I need to write a morning page. How about that?

Of course, there would be days when I know I won’t be able to write. If I inform these people at least a day prior, I can take a break.

The more I think about it, the more I think that the idea at some level is similar to what Naval says about 60 minutes of meditation every day. He advocates sitting idle and letting your thoughts run amok. Julia asks us to write. In both, I think the key tenets are a daily routine, flushing your head off whatever is clouding it, and spending time with self.

Oh, by the way, Julia says asks us that these morning pages don’t have to be shared per se. But you know me. How can I do something and not drum about it to the world?

Now, as a reader that may want to read these, here are some “rules” that I want to put forth.

  1. These would be my unedited, unfiltered thoughts. And thus could be happy, sad, cribby, ranty, boring, interesting, etc.
  2. I will NOT correct typos on this one. May become an eye-sore for you as a reader but that’s that.
  3. I will endeavor to write 1000 words every day, give or take. Or write for 30 minutes. I know it’s a lot but let’s see how many I get in.
  4. Some days when I don’t have a computer with me, I will write with pen and paper and I will take a picture and upload it to this blog as and when I get time. May be I’ll write on the phone. If not even that, I will do a voice note. Something will happen for sure.
  5. I will not focus on paraphernalia around writing on WordPress. So, no tags, no SEO optimization etc.

So yeah. Morning Pages.

Today was day 1. Lets see how many days I do this.


PS: You know how things that you seek find you? That!

I spotted someone reading this book at a Starbucks and at a whim I ordered it. I am about 50 pages in and so far I like it. I can see myself recommending the book to others.

PPS: When I read the first few pages, I see that Julia talks about writing and creativity being spiritual practices and she connects it to God. As a non-believer, I was tempted to dismiss the idea and discard the book. But the struggling writer in me wanted to continue. So I did. I see value in what she says and I am reading the book assuming that God is the teacher and spirituality is the routine that we need to create.

PPPS: Writing on WordPress in these blocks is a pain. But I will find a workaround.

PPPPS: I realized I am happy when I am writing. Even if what I write is not read by anyone around. This post is giving me kicks that a beach is not. Guess I am the happiest when I create. I don’t know why. But I am. So, may be, in life, I need to be a creationist even though I don’t want to create any babies per se. M&m is more than enough!

Day 3 – Spilled!

I continue to be butterfingers and spill tea on my laptop and the table that I work at!

Read about it.

As I write this, I am at a Starbucks (yeah, even with lockdown and COVID by withstanding, I have been coming to a Starbucks for a week now). I am one of those rare ones to believe that nothing would happen to me. It is 6:42 PM (published at 7:13 PM) and I am going to write for the next 30 minutes. And I do have a thing that I want to write about. Read on.

So, I am one of those people that has extremely good hand-eye coordination. so much so that I can give competition to Po, the greatest Kung-Fu master of all time. Or to those robots that seem to be snatching balls mid-air. Even Jonty Rhodes is nothing compared to me (do see this video of Jonty in action to get a sense of how good I am!).

Once I see a room with my eyes, I can walk in there with a blindfold on my eyes.

Really!

In fact I claim that once I place something on a table with my hands, I am so aware of my surroundings that I can close my eyes and reach out to things that I have placed on the table.

And yet… I have this notorious record of spilling things on my laptop. Thing is, when I write, I like to keep the laptop an arm away, stretch my hands and place my notepad, pen, tea / coffee / coke / water etc between the laptop and the edge of the table.

See this picture.

Saurabh Garg's desktop
Apologies for the bad picture quality…

Yeah yeah. I am sure you are worried that I am walking on eggshells and I am inviting disaster every time I even flinch. And I agree. But what is that life that you don’t live on the edge of?

And you know what is missing in this picture?

A cup of black tea that I was sipping onto, that I spilled on the table and the notepad and the laptop!

Sigh.

Thing is, most days I am ok with this setup. And most days I don’t spill things. But today, I did. At a crowded Starbucks and I had everyone staring at me as if I were a petulant child! Or I was Edward (Scissorhands).

So yeah, that was the achievement of the day. I had no clue that I would write about this but now that I made the mistake of spilling tea, why not make it into an opportunity and talk about it ๐Ÿ™‚

And with this, its over and out. See you guys tomorrow!

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Day 2 – Humans vs Robots

A tiny home-improvement decision that I think I will take as I move to a new house in the next week. Part of my 30 days of writing every day for 30 minutes project.

This is the second day of this new project where I try and write every day for 30 minutes. As I start writing this, it is 9:09 PM (ended at 9:56 PM) and I do have this one thing that I want to talk about. Let’s see how long I take to write it.

So, in less than a week, I move to a new house. Like all the other houses that I have lived at, this one is also not mine and that means I am reluctant to acquire things that make the house a home. I mean I don’t put no pictures, no photos, no posters, nothing that resembles a place that is lived well. Even the furniture, I don’t acquire it. I don’t like the idea of material possessions (while I do have a bagful of memories – photos, postcards, tickets, hand-written trinkets and all that), I try and not attach myself to things.

There are multiple reasons for that. Lemme make a list.

A. In the past, when I did have things that I could attach myself to, every time I’d move the house, those would break and I’d get sad about em. So, to avoid disappointment, I decided against acquiring things.

B. Thing is, I like finer things (you know, expensive, made with love, limited edition, by artisans) and I have this big child ego (I either want the whole world, or nothing) and I have never had a lot of disposable money to be able to buy all the nice things. So, I trained myself to overlook these material things and not pine for those. I would of course continue to spend money to get some of these for friends. These gifts are voluntary – I can choose to get those or I could not get any at all. However, if I get addicted to better things, I would start pining for those and I know I can’t afford em. So, detach.

C. Continuing with the thread of detachment, I am trying to have minimal attachments to material things. This means I am embracing minimalism, Buddhism, Stoicism, Mary-Knodoism, Hagge-ism, and every other such -ism that tells us to be simple with our lives.

Of course, do get emotional when I have to change the house. I do not like to be around when I move. I rely on my friends and handymen to do so. Like they say, truth, is weirder than fiction ๐Ÿ™‚

D. I saved the best for the last. I love space. And the kind of houses that we have in Mumbai, we have anything but space. Even with minimal furniture and furnishing, you sort of keep bumping into the walls all the time. So, I try and avoid stuffing the house with things!

***

So yeah, I have lived my life in a certain manner (like a robot) and I think it serves me well.

So, why this post?

Well, as I said, I am going to move to a new house in the next week. And as I get ready to make the move, I am thinking that I will change it! Thinking. Not doing it. And I will list those reasons as well here.

Let’s go.

1. I want to look at life on the other side. The side where you get emotional about things. I am after all an experience junky. To a point that I want to pack a thousand lives into this tiny one that we have. And I’d love to see things from. the perspective of the vain ones.

2. I want to assert my personality. When I had a business that was well and alive (prior to the COVID shock), I could project myself via my work. Now, I cant. So, I need to find something that allows me to. Even if it’s a simple wall in one of the rooms where I post things that are important to me.

3. I have always been a public-place person. I cant spend time at home. I feed off the energy of others and that means I love places like cafes and offices and worksites where I can see others working. Thanks to this WFH thingy, I know that I may not be able to get back to an office anytime soon (even though I have been going to a Starbucks every day for a week now). So, I need to convert the new place to resemble a bright, cheery place. That means I will have to get home those yellow lights, ambient speakers, the aroma of the coffee, and more! music systems and all that. And that means I will have to set up a few things that make my house, well, home, and start living like a human!

Robot. Human. Get the drift?

That’s it for the day.

With this, its over and out. See you guys tomorrow!

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The 30-minutes a day writing habit

Come find out why am I picking a new hobby of writing everyday for at least 30 minutes.

So, I am part of this group of writers that meets once every week (on Zoom). All of us want to write long-form content (3000+ words in length) and in general, be better writers. Thus, a lot of our chats are around how to write better, how to get better ideas for writing, how to have an interesting perspective on things to be able to write about those, and so on and so forth.

We throw ideas at each other, we ask each other tough questions and more importantly, we try and help each other out when we are stuck.

On this week’s call, Shravya talked about Andy Matuschak and his routine of writing every day for 30 minutes. What he writes could be a thing as simple as a summary of the book that he’s read recently. Or it could be a part of an essay that he’s working on. Or something from his writing inbox. The output is not important. What is important is that he gets 30 minutes of writing done.

Think of it as your daily practice of workout, meditation, or even those 10000 steps! It’s such a simple idea and I think like all other things that you do as routine for a fairly long period, it would compound and give you fabulous returns.

I have myself engaged in a similar exercise at different times where I would ensure that I would write every day. I have done various avatars – from writing an SoG a day to writing 1000 words a day to even taking a picture each day and writing about it. Of course, I always slack after a few days.

But I have never been this serious about writing as I have been in the past few months. Not even when I was writing #tnks! Thing is, I have seen some crazy connections happen just because what I wrote resonated with so many people!

I realise that writing could actually lead me to things that I want in life – access to interesting people, money and more importantly, impact. Even if I am not the most flowery writer. Even if I am not the deepest, most insightful writer. And even if I what I write does not move a mole!

So, buoyed by that, here’s a promise to self.

To double down on effort I make with my writing. I will add 30 minutes of writing to my daily routine (other things there are 10 minutes of meditation, 16000 steps and 20 pullups). And I will publish each day’s work here, on this blog.

I will do this for at least 30 days, start today. Today is Day 1 and this post is today’s output ๐Ÿ™‚

Do read what I write and do feed me back with how I could improve.

Over and out!