Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn more about creative non-fiction writing. With Amazon.com as my guide, I ordered ebooks and books on journaling, creative non-fiction writing, as well as books on writing exercises and writing techniques.
For the first time in my life I had so many books on writing, and I explored the pages eagerly. I am still in the process of reading the books…there must have been quite a thirst in me at that time because I ordered quite a lot!
I have learned and continue to learn from the books. There are many discoveries. For instance, I discovered that long before Julia Cameron wrote about morning pages, Dorothea Brande recommended early morning writing in 1934; before Tony Buzan surprised the world with mind-mapping, Gabrielle Lusser Rico wrote about clustering in 1983; and Eric Maisel’s recommendation to write a little every four hours during the day, “just like taking your medicine,” is very similar to Dorothea Brande’s writing by prearrangement.
Setting aside my concerns about attribution, perhaps we can learn from Cameron, Buzan and Maisel, who adapted the techniques of Brande and Rico.
I have tried to put into practice early morning writing and it has so far been a great experience. What I didn’t expect are the spontaneous and intermittent ideas about writing that come before and after I do early morning writing, which is why I have fallen in love with this writing practice. But last Sunday, I just didn’t feel like writing at all. I simply wanted to observe the Sabbath the way the Jews celebrate it, although I am a Catholic. So I gave myself permision not to do early morning writing.
In her book Becoming a Writer, Brande specifically said early morning writing should be done every single day. I am a big fan of Dorothea Brande, but I just don’t want to write on Sundays anymore. One of the commenters in my last post wrote, “I am truly going to set myself a time ~ one hour every day (four days a week!!) and use it for any type of writing.” This is her own adaptation of Brande’s writing by prearrangement. In response to another post, a commenter wrote, “I love the idea of freedom that comes with effortless writing… early morning. The challenge with me is that I also need “early morning discipline” as I’m more of a “late afternoon/early evening person…” I suggested she adapt the technique and call it “late afternoon writing.”
“Permission granted” as Peter Levitt says in his book Fingerpainting on the Moon. Yes, read and experiment with the recommendations given by the writing gurus, but learn to give yourself permission to adapt the exercises and techniques to suit your circumstances. Find your own writing rhythm, write to your own writing tempo, and who knows, one day you may just write your own book based upon your adaptation of another writing guru’s technique!