Prayer and a Paper Shredder

April 18, 2011
Cheryl Woelk |

I just read through my "morning pages," looking for nuggets to blog about and ripping out pages to shred.

"Morning pages" come from a class I took last year. It focused on "Disciplines for the Peacebuilder" and maintaining balance, and emotional and spiritual health when involved in the intense work of peacebuilding. The instructions were to write three pages every morning of whatever came to mind. It should be handwritten freewriting - not putting the pen down until the three pages have been filled.

Since the class ended, I've continued writing. These morning pages have something to them. When I do them more or less consistently, that is. It's only a page now, not the originally prescribed, so time-wise it's not really that difficult.

As I browse through my scribbling, there's actually more than I thought. Yes, there's a lot of repeated worries, a lot of my "inner critic" telling me how I will most certainly fail at this or that, and lots of anxiety about getting things done and fitting everything in to the schedule. But there's also working through that. Somehow by the end of the page, the worries seem to stick to the paper and I can move on.

Or the words act to intentionally change my mood. Several times, I start out grumpy and annoyed, and end up writing myself into a positive space.

Prayer on paper?

Since it doesn't matter what I write, there's no pressure whatsoever. Every week or so I can go through the pages, pick out nuggets, then shred the rest. Let go.

I think this is healthy. Sure there's the little voice of wanting to write for posterity, but then I have lots of writing like that including blogs, papers, and maybe one day a published journal article or two (yes, I can do that, inner critic!).

Besides, if I think too much about who might be reading my pages, the writing changes. If the purpose is the act of writing itself, there's really no need to think of an audience.

And a paper shredder is helpful with that too.

Author Name: 
Cheryl Woelk
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