How the practice of journaling can help free the musician from stage fright
I believe deeply in the power of creating a grounding practice in your daily rhythm.
A grounding practice serves to create space for yourself, to honor your feelings and experiences, to fill your inspiration tank and to train yourself to be calm in the midst of anxiety. So when you walk into a performance you are both full of bravery and confidence AND you are equipped to gently manage the fear that comes along with it.
One of the most powerful tools in my personal grounding practice is MORNING PAGES.
Morning Pages are beautifully simple.
Just three long hand pages of writing done first thing in the morning.
Morning pages take what is unknown and make it known.
They give voice to feelings and space for dreams.
They allow us to speak to ourselves in a way that is kind and encouraging.
But we can be as ugly and petty as we need to be as well. (No one sees them!)
They purge out the nonsense until we are able to uncover the wise.
They give space to work through anxiety, not simply stew in it.
They are like breath - slow, methodical, deep.
They bring us back to ourselves in the most gentle of ways.
They reveal truths and allow us to believe in ourselves.
They give us time to find clarity in the midst of struggle, hope where we would have felt stuck and discouraged.
They call up our better angels, giving us a place to be our best, fullest, most imaginative selves.
They free up creativity because we aren’t bogged down with fear.
They show us what we need to learn and where we need to grow.
They are simply space for you. All of you.
“Pages clarify our yearnings. They keep an eye on our goals. They may provoke us, coax us, comfort us, even cajole us, as well as prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. If we are drifting, the pages will point that out. They will point the way True North. Each morning, as we face the page, we meet ourselves. The pages give us a place to vent and a place to dream. They are intended for no eyes but our own.”
― Julia Cameron
As musicians we must be grounded in our own humanity. We are not merely presenting Bach’s art or Debussy’s notes to the world.
We are cracking open our story and co-creating something NEW with the composer and our fellow musicians.
That’s the magic, right? That is why we continue to play this music.
Not because it is beautiful (which it is!), but because it is unique to this moment in time and space and the humans with which we are sharing it. That is how Beethoven 3 still moves us and is still completely relevant all these many years later.
But in order to bring our fullest most authentic selves to performance, we Must KNOW ourselves. We must be intimate with the depth and riches that swirl inside of us. We need to have mined our experiences and our feelings so that we can express them through our music.
For me? Morning pages are the vehicle through which that vital work occurs.
As you embark on your three longhand pages a day, you will sometimes find yourself at a loss for words. That happens to me often! It happens when I am most blocked or distracted or burned out and weary.
It can be helpful to have some very simple prompts to draw from. Here are some of my favorites:
What do I love?
What is beautiful about me?
What is beautiful about others (spouse, child, parents)? This is helpful when you are in conflict with that person.
What would my best friend tell me about myself?
What do I know to be true?
What are my unique giftings?
Where do I find creative energy?
When do I feel most alive?
And on and on. You will have your own list based on what your heart needs. But these will help you as you start.
As a grounding practice, morning pages are the top of the top, in my opinion.
I urge you, with loving insistence, TRY THEM.
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
Join the waiting list for my FREE mini-course, How to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve and Calm the Heck Down.
Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.