A collection of my notebooks from the past five years…I like to mix it up.
It seems to me that a lot of writing experts are proponents of keeping a schedule. For them, writing is a discipline and they keep a schedule with their muses. I’m thinking of Julia Cameron with her morning pages. Each morning, Cameron recommends in The Artist’s Way, that her readers wake up and start writing. At least three pages. She has good reason–you’ll be less likely to edit yourself as you go when you’re still in that twilight phase between asleep and awake.
I get it but…I don’t know about you but the last thing I am going to do in the morning is sit down and write. I’ll be slumped over my notebook with drool running down my chin within five minutes.
And it’s not just the idea of writing in the morning that turns me off. It’s the idea of being required to do a certain thing at a certain time. (You can imagine how much I love my day job.) I do not like plans. The surest way to guarantee that I’ll flake out on you is to make plans with me. I don’t even like keeping lunch dates. (I do it anyway because otherwise I’d have no friends. Women go out to lunch together. It’s what we do.) Writing comes to me when it comes to me and that’s when I pull out a pen. During my son’s last concert band performance I wrote three lines of poetry on the back of the program. That same night before bed I wrote one sentence in my notebook: I am so frikken tired.
You’re not always going to feel enlightened when you pick up the pen. What matters is that you pick up a pen. If religious adherence to the practice of morning pages suits you best–by all means, go for it. But if lines of poetry come to you while you’re waiting in line at school pick-up, write them down on a receipt. Just remember to save the receipt. Maybe both approaches work for you and you are the next Jane Austen. Go get ’em, tiger. Do what works.
Just write. Write every day or every time your toddler takes a nap or once a week or at night when your partner’s snoring is keeping you awake.
All that said, here are some things to write about. Just a few prompts to get you going. Try one or all of them. Write on each for ten minutes. Stretch your legs on the page, as it were. Ready. Set. Write.
- Your last phone call with your lover
- Your most memorable birthday
- Your partner’s most irritating habit
- The last time you felt dubious but gave something/someone a chance anyway
- Your last plane ride
- When you looked in the mirror this morning, you felt…
- What’s your spirit animal and why?
- If you were going to start your own business, you’d…
- I always feel like there’s not enough [insert noun here: love, help, money, etc.]…
- The thing you are most afraid of
If you share any of your responses to these on your own blog, do link to them in the comments.