Getting Betterish, Part I: Developing A Morning Routine

morning pages

Late last Fall, I decided to start a monthly series for myself called “Getting Betterish At: _____.” (<— insert something to get better at here).

I began this as a means to find a healthier rhythm on my entrepreneurial journey/better listen and avidly practice my intentions. And, to truly breath this betterish mentality I want to be spreading more of into the world.

My initial plan was to write a blog post after each month but a.) I’ve found it challenging to carve out that time b.) …but I’m really very glad about it because it’s been allowing me more time to reflect on how I continue to incorporate these changes into my life. Because in actuality: these these things I’m getting better at should be practices that go beyond the month I’m focusing them on.

(..and now I’m gonna back it up to December)

December 2018

Getting Betterish at: Developing A Sustainable Morning Routine

 Mornings have always been sacred to me. I’ve always been a morning person. Even as a teenager, I rarely slept in. I was that weirdo in college that got up early and was either walking the campus loop road or the only one at the gym ellipticizing to MTV music videos. Post college, you’d find me running from my apartment in Mt. Vernon (Baltimore) to the Inner Harbor. When I lived in Eugene, my mornings varied from roaming the Friendly Street neighborhood to research + writing in cozy coffee shops. During my brief stint in San Francisco, I got a taste of true city slicking by taking on a more urban hustle & bustle: riding the BART from Berkeley to the Mission every morning + a 15 minute walk to my internship site.

morning routine

Then came Santa Cruz where I found myself walking to the beach nearly every morning. It was absolute pure magic. I knew when I left, I would be leaving a routine that was incredibly special in a heart-opening kind of way. It was tough to say goodbye to those mornings.

I spent a lot of the last year navigating what the next steps of my career could look like. I took on three part-time jobs while sorting out if I could build betterish as a business (+ took on the role of project manager for our wedding). I had no sense of consistency. Though I pride myself on being a flexible-go-with-the-flow-adaptable-kind-of-person, by November I knew I needed to make some kind of shift in order to feel more grounded, focused and centered.  

 (enter: morning pages)

The bedrock tool of a creative recovery is a daily practice called Morning Pages.” 
— Julia Cameron

For years, people have recommended I take up the practice of Morning Pages, something Julia Cameron shares beautifully in The Artists’ Way.  

I finally did on December 1, 2018.

I’ve always enjoyed the physicality of writing and journaling, but unintentionally cut that out of my personal creative practice from 2010-2016ish. And that’s totally fine because during those years I picked up other creative practices like zine crafting, printmaking and exploring the world of arts as social practice.

…but I’m also SO glad I’m finally getting back to writing.

Julia Cameron advocates writing first thing in the morning, and for three pages— a pure stream of consciousness kind of writing on anything that crosses your mind, solely for you and your eyes only.

 Here I am, end of May, and I’m still scrawling! It’s honestly become more of a habit than a routine…and I’m not mad about it.

morning pages

Here’s a few tips + take-aways from my first five months of consistently doing morning pages:

1.)   Keep a journal just for morning pages. I was attempting to consolidate my notebooking’ by integrating my morning page writings within my work notebook. Not good. Work associations amidst morning ramblings throws off where the mind really wants to wander to. Keep it separate.

2.)   It’s just for you. Not an audience. I’ve realized that I’m now constantly writing for audience: whether it’s an email to a few hundred people or a text message to one person. We’re constantly writing to other people other than ourselves. Writing for you is a gift. Honor it whole-heartedly.

3.)   Do it first thing. There’s something about writing when your mind is just awakening…as in: roll out of bed, brush your teeth and get to your notebook rather than scrolling through your phone. And hey, I’m totally guilty and a sufferer of the scroll syndrome. Resist the phone and put that energy onto fresh pages.

4.)   It’s ok if it’s just for five minutes. I know it’s more beneficial to let the pen flow for longer, but I also know we’ve all got places to go and people to see. To me: five minutes is better than zero minutes.

5.)   Create a ritual with it. I light a candle and boil a pot of tea when I do my morning pages. I didn’t realize how important this part was to my routine until I didn’t have a candle around for nearly two weeks---and something felt really off.

What I appreciate most about this morning routine: I can take it anywhere. I don’t need running shoes. I don’t need shells to be found. I don’t need to pay for chai. I don’t even need music.

Just some blank pages and a trusty pen.

emily hope dobkin