I missed posting last week because it was an exceptionally busy week. Robin Williams’ suicide put a spotlight on depression, which happens to be my specialty as an energy therapist (along with trauma resolution). I had more than the usual number of requests for one-on-one sessions and for a while until late last week, I switched back to all-giving mode. I kept up with early morning writing though but I missed a couple of days.
I’ve slowed down since, after I caught myself reaching for a second cup of coffee so that I could see my way through the last client for the day. Gone, for the past two weeks though, were all the time I should have spent on what I call my book writing spree ( Dorothea Brande’s term, writing by prearrangement is simply too straightforward – writing is fun for me). But I did manage a few haibuns, along with a few haikus and tankas.
Even through the rush of the past two weeks, I noticed that early morning writing had resulted in several surprising developments. For some reason, sleep was more productive and I had many dreams. But the dreams just faded into memory as I went through the motions of beginning my day: making up the bed, brushing my teeth, drinking a glass of water and other mundane tasks. Somehow, sometime during early morning writing, the details of the dream would come back. At first, I stopped writing for a while and tried to remember the details (I also do dream interpretation) and then went back to writing. I wrote in my dream journal at other times during the day or at night or the next day.
But after a few days of this, I decided to stop writing in my freewriting journal and move over to my dream journal to write the details of the dream at the moment that they came rushing through. The more I did this, the more dreams I remembered, and I can assure you some of the dreams were telling me I was sliding back to the old habit of rushing through life.
Early morning writing is one habit I know will be hard to break – and I have no intention of doing that. It is so surprising how one habit can affect the rest of one’s writing life. These past few days, although I had not worked on the book project for more than 2 weeks, I knew it was time to take the project to the next level. After I’m done freewriting in the morning, thoughts and ideas continue to come through about the current book project and other writing projects.
I’m reading Writing Wild; Forming a Creative Relationship with Nature. The author, Tina Welling, explores the relationship between nature and writing and encourages readers to treat their writing life as though it were a garden. I suppose this is why early morning writing yields so many fruits – by writing every morning we fertilize our creative roots. Before starting this ritual, I used to journal everyday at different times, when I felt like it or when there was time to do it. Although I’ve been journaling all my adult life, I’ve never experienced this kind of blossoming, probably because I regarded journaling simply as a tool to help me through life. Showing up every morning seems to be giving the brain a different message: “Hey, I want to write and I will!”
What to do with these ideas that keep sprouting” Welling recommends using folders: “Jot down ideas for writing projects, put each one in a folder, and allow the ideas to become magnets for related material. Over time, as we consider each idea, other thoughts occur around it, and we can write those down and drop them into the folder.” I’m not a folder person, but I do love notebooks, so I’m using notebooks instead.
Welling explains that segregating ideas into different compartments is akin to growing seedlings. “Those ideas that continue to engender interest and passion will gather enough material in the folder for us to begin a writing project. Just to mix the metaphors here: this gathering of material can be thought of as feathering the nest because we are beginning to feel at home with the project.”
The next few steps Welling enumerates is exactly where I am now, and it feels good to know that my writing life is blooming: “Next take such a folder and begin organizing the material within it. Further ideas will arise as we type the jottings we have collected into our computer, in part because the pressure is off since we already have our core idea and support material.”
“Finally,” Welling suggests, “rewrite and edit, then rewrite and edit again. For many writers, this process involves letting the project rest until some time passes to allow us to detach from the work. We can read the piece in a different location than the place we originally wrote it, to further the sense of detachment and fresh perspective. Also, we may share our work with a writing group for critiquing, then do another rewrite after considering their input. Power is gathering around this writing project. Though confidence may waver during any part of the process, we have invested enough interest and passion in this baby bird to see it safely fly out of the nest on its own wings.”
I’m still a long way from the final steps involving rewriting and editing. For now I watch my writing garden sprout tiny seeds and it gives me so much pleasure. I do hope you explore early morning writing, if you haven’t yet, so you too can watch your writing garden grow.
I did a web search on early morning writing and as it turns out, there is a scientific explanation behind the fruitfulness of this habit. Mason Currey explores the daily rituals of highly creative people and dwells on the question, “is waking up early the secret to success” in his blog post which was featured in Slate. Publication coach Daphne Gray-Grant offers some suggestions on how to start a daily early morning writing habit in a post that she guarantees will take only three minutes to read, so why not visit her blog? In Brain Pickings, Maria Popova features an amazing visual illustration of famous writers’ sleep habits and their literary accomplishments. It’s always a pleasure to take a peek at the writing habits of not-so extraordinary people because we can relate more to them, and Roxana Robinson’s article, How I Get to Write, was certainly a good read.
How does your writing garden grow?