On Sunday, January 3 2021, motivated by an emotional low point and an article I read on writing “Morning Pages”, I grabbed an old notepad, pen, started writing and didn’t stop until I had filled three pages.
It was the first time in 5 years I wrote something by hand, and the first time in my life I journaled.
I liked it so much that I kept writing every day.
We’re 625 days later now, and I never stopped. 3 pages of Stream of Consciousness journaling a day, 625 days in a row: that’s 1875 pages or relaxing the mind and letting my train of thoughts “stream onto the page”, unfiltered, playfully wandering through my experiences, thoughts, and insights.
But no matter how enjoyable the wandering, lately I’ve been feeling the urge to create something tangible (and valuable) with all those insights and ideas.
Here’s how I envision it:
Daily journaling (Morning Pages) unblocks my stream of consciousness and transfers it to paper, forming the raw material out of which ideas and insights can emerge. In my experience, once I’ve gone through the sea of fluff, I can expect an insight (maybe two if I’m lucky).
Daily sculpting helps me remove all the fluff until only the pure insights are left, and then refine them, like a sculptor chiseling away at a massive block of marble, working to reveal the essence hidden inside of it.
“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.”– Mark Twain
Sculpting is the hard part. Because when you think about it, the raw material – the ideas and insights – have always been there, just like the famous Davide sculpture has always been hidden inside the block of marble Michelangelo hauled from a quarry in Carrara in the Apuan alps. He just paid attention in a different way and saw what many others didn’t see.
Yet, he wasn’t the only person who had the idea to use a block of marble to sculpt a Biblical figure. But the way he shaped that raw material into something impactful, beautiful, that accurately represents what you had in mind…
That made all the difference.
And it’s a skill that takes a long time to hone.
Which might be why I’ve avoided it for so long. So far, out of 1875 pages of journaling, I’ve published… 4 articles.
Time to change that. From today onwards, I’m adding a “sculpting session” to my day and will publish the result as a “Daily Insight”.
I don’t expect it to be particularly insightful anytime soon. Maybe I’ll never be fully satisfied with anything I come up with.
But when I stick to it every day and arrive at day 50, 100, or day 625…
Who knows how much I’ll have learned about writing, insight generation, communication,…?
Who knows what will have emerged?
Surely more than if I’d do nothing.
Which leads me to the question I’m asking myself today:
What would it feel like if I remove all external judgment from writing and see writing as the practice of exploring thoughts, ideas, feelings, insights, and becoming ever more accurate and impactful in representing them?
My current answer: I’d be focused much more on process and progress, not on competition. I’d feel how I’m getting better every day, not in relationship to others (as in competition), but in relationship to the purest expression of a certain art, skill, or action.
Sculpting away, day by day.