Lately I’ve been rolling out of bed in the morning, and right away – before I shower, do yoga or get dressed – bring a cup of tea to my desk where I put in an hour writing before I launch into the rest of my day.
I know that ‘good’ morning pagers might deplore my detour to the kitchen to make tea, and there are a lot of good reasons to roll over and write. But I need tea. And I type rather than do my pages by hand, as I can keep up with what’s in my head much quicker with a keyboard.
Before I open my email, check Facebook, or read CBC’s news headlines, I head to the file on my Desktop called Morning Pages, and start writing. It might be about something I dreamed about, or what was on my mind when I woke up. It might be something about what I worked on yesterday, or something I need to get a handle on soon. Very rarely is it about anything in my personal life. More usually about writing projects on the go, or ideas that are percolating.
During this first session at my desk, I often also write for a while using a prompt.
There are many websites out there that offer prompts. Some are along the lines of ‘WritE about something that happened in your family that no one ever speaks about.” Or, “The blonde man advanced down the pathway, overseen by two cats sunning themselves on the wall.”
These seldom work for me. They are freighted with too much material or with the author’s intent, or would force me to wander to places I’m just not interested in revisiting right now.
I prefer lines and phrases that have a hum, an echo, a certain je ne sais quoi that I can explore, excavate or illuminate during the writing process itself.
Two I found in my own notebooks and have used recently are:
- They moved the bed into the house, piece by piece.
- I know the joy and danger of angels.
I believe that ten of us could sit down and each come up with something entirely different about either of these.
If you like these kind of random prompts, head over to UK writer Alex Keegan’s blog http://alexkeegan.blogspot.ca/
You can either scroll down through many, many first lines to see what gets your attention. Or before you go, randomly pick a number, any number, then find the corresponding prompt.
Sometimes, the act of using the prompt to warm up my writing muscle, and explore some new territory is enough. At others, I find I manage to unearth a germ that I will use either to launch a new project, or to include in some way in a work in progress. I write with no expectation or judgement about what will come out of it. But am always curious to see what has landed on the page as a result of this.
Just for the hell of it, I might go for numbers 3, 11, 21, 28, 41, 80 or 93. Which are…. give me a minute while I go and find out…
3. Dollars and cents
11. No doubt the Greeks have a word for it
21. Officially, an accident
28. Love, say it Love
93. This is what happens if you skive off English classes
With my starting notes and whatever comes out of the prompts, I usually end up with 1,000-1,200 words by the end of my morning writing session. This is only sometimes followed by longer, more intentional writing sessions during the day. But at least, if life conspires to keep me away from my computer for the rest of the day, I can say that This Day I Wrote.