Writing morning pages “like an oxygen mask.”

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You’ve heard a flight attendant say “In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the panel above your head. Secure your own mask before helping others.”

But why shouldn’t you take 30 seconds to help your child put their mask on before you put on your own?

And what “does putting on an oxygen mask” have to do with writing morning pages?

Destin of Smarter Every Day did a Nasa experiment to determine what would happen if he didn’t put on his oxygen mask for one minute. As the oxygen saturation levels in his body dropped and he experienced hypoxia, basic human functions (like say, the will to live) completely stopped working. If you put on your mask first, you are alive and can help others.

All very interesting, but again, how are writing morning pages like an oxygen mask?

Tery a high school principal and teacher was giving so much of her time and attention to her job, to the children, the other teachers, she’d begun to feel burned out. It would be overly dramatic to say the burnout was making her lose her will to live — but certainly, it was killing her joy and passion for her work.

Enter morning pages.

Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.

“I started writing my morning pages and it was like putting on an oxygen mask on,” Tery wrote me after she did my 5-day morning page challenge.

A mime, storyteller, and writer, Tery had always drawn a great deal of personal pleasure from being creative. What she discovered from writing her morning pages was this: by not taking time to do the things that mattered most, she’d been killing the joy and passion she felt for her work.

Writing the morning pages made Tery feel more alive which made it easier for her to help others.

A few days later, Tery wrote me another email.

“Since I had to write my morning pages, I asked a senior student who is in my 8 a.m. creative writing class to write morning pages. She is an amazing writer, but after an hour, usually wrote only one or two perfect paragraphs. When she wrote morning pages, it was the FIRST time she filled 3 pages, and she loved the feeling! She found what she wanted to write about after the first page, not before. This was a breakthrough for her.”

Do you wonder whether writing the morning pages will help you to take care of yourself first, so you can better take care of others? The only way to know for sure whether they’ll work for you is to try doing them. Sign up for the free 5-day writing challenge and it will help you get started.

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