The daily pages habit

Yesterday I reached a significant milestone. On 25 November last year, sixth months ago, I started out on an attempt to develop a habit of writing a journal or ‘morning pages‘ every day. I have managed to write at least 750 words every single day since then.

The concept of ‘morning pages‘ is a simple one. Every day you write for a few pages about whatever comes into your head. It might be a traditional journal, or thinking about the day ahead, or just whatever comes into your mind. It is solely for your own purposes, not for sharing, and the process is more important than the product. I don’t follow the practice precisely – I don’t always write in the morning, and prefer to type rather than write long-hand.

There are a range of proposed benefits for writing a daily journal, and I would generally agree with many of them. For me, I find the planning and thinking for the day ahead that I do when I write is really helpful, and I also find being able to recall events beneficial. And I also think both the clarity and speed of my writing has improved since I have been developing the habit.

Like lots of people I have tried daily writing before and never been able to make a consistent habit until now. This time I started out with a service called 750words.com. This is a very simple web app that allows you to write, counts your words and notes when you reach 750. The app is great because it both counts the days that you meet the 750-word target and also maintains a running total of the number of consecutive days. Although counting consecutive days could be done manually I found that the app provides a level of accountability that was important in the early days. There were no options to leave today’s entry until tomorrow, or to relax the number of words each day. Once the habit was established, I stopped using 750words.com and now just write in Evernote, keeping a daily running total.

Writing daily like this takes between 20 and 30 minutes, and I certainly find it to be incredibly beneficial. It is a practice that I would definitely recommend.