I’m a big fan of journaling. I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was in Middle school. For the past several years, thanks to a great book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’ve been doing something called Morning Pages or Automatic Writing. The idea is to get a notebook and every morning just start writing. Don’t think about what to write, just write. You don’t stop until you’ve filled up a set amount of pages. The only rule is to not stop or edit yourself. The idea is to just open the tap between your brain and your pen. If you have nothing to say then you write, “I have nothing to say” until something else comes up. It’s like a writing version of jaming or improvising.
When you’re jamming with other musicians you don’t have much time to think about what you are playing. You just work off of the moment. It’s a good way to warm up and occasionally a good idea will surface.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with prompts for journaling. I’ve been getting some good ones from a book called Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.
My prompt this morning was to take a topic you feel strongly about and write about it in three ways. First, write as much as you can about how much you love the topic. Then, flip it and write as though you totally hate the topic. Finally, write about the topic perfectly neutral.
The topic I picked was Music. As you can imagine, it was a lot easier to write about how much I loved music than to be negative or neutral about it. But when I’d finished the exercise I feel like my appreciation for music was stronger than ever.
I think this is a great exercise for expanding your scope in life and developing empathy. It’s especially effective if it’s a topic that you really feel passionately about, either for or against. You might try picking your favorite song or artist… or even a genre of music you totally hate? It’s a good brain flex.
Below is a playlist of songs that have resonated with me in the past month. I hope they bring more joy to your life. Thanks for listening, MMM
Included are songs by Schwervon!, Broken Heart Syndrome, Knife Crime, Fala La, The Polynoses, Katey Lewis, Lisa Li-Lund, Dinosaur Jr., The Igor Cutler Trio, Amon Düül Il, Widowspeak, Kings of Leon, Atlas Sound, Matt Sweeny, Bonnie Prince Billy, Dark Holler, Heartless Bastards, The Avalanches
(Subscribe to get a new playlist every 1st Monday of the month. Click on my user link or search: Major Matt’s 1st Monday on Spotify to cruise past playlists and discover more music.