You may be considering the idea of becoming a Morning Writer. If so, I’m writing this letter to encourage you to start now. I know you think you have time ahead of you, but a life goes by quickly as you shall see. I got up early this morning to write you these few suggestions on how to get started. After twenty-one years of morning writing, it has become relaxing, calming and fluid.
It didn’t start that way, of course. As all writers will say, writing takes practice. But to start the practice of getting up earlier than you normally would, just to fit a small private writing time into your schedule, is a method that will make that big difference in your life. Ask William Stafford, our former Oregon Poet Laureate, the perfect example of a dedicated Morning Writer. He did not let distractions detour him, he consistently wrote every morning before dawn.
For new Morning Writers, I would encourage you to find a time early enough for your schedule, find a place that doesn’t allow you distractions. Start in a simple journal and the subject can be what you know the best, and that is: yourself.
Here is a suggestion I learned from Julia Cameron, from “The Artist’s Way”. She says to start with a short amount of time, but to do it every morning. Say fifteen minutes in the beginning. Put your pen to the paper and start writing. If you get stuck, write the same word over and over. Seriously. I did that several times in the beginning, but that doesn’t last long. Remove whatever standard you have made about what writing should look like, what your penmanship should look like. Just write. Write every morning.
Write about what? Some suggestions are to write about what’s important to you at this moment in your life, what’s going on in your life, what’s not going on. There are many prompts that can get you started on a story, a story about your life. Try not to rant too often or repeat stories. Quite frankly, the best advice is to not re-read it. I am saving mine for when I’m eighty years old and less critical, I will enjoy it much more.
Of upmost importance is to be honest with yourself. I mean, this book is for you. These stories can be personal and meaningful. This isn’t for anyone else to read. If it’s not authentic, you will soon bore yourself and end your endeavor. Rather, explore what turns you’ve taken in your life, take yourself seriously as if your life matters. Yes, this too takes practice.
With practice it becomes easier to articulate what you think, what you feel. It becomes a way to process your daily life. You are learning how to express yourself. Otherwise, how often do you tell personal stories, tell what’s important to you? How do you find time to discover what you are learning or how important an experience has been or what is important at that moment, if you haven’t taken the time to process it?
This writing will likely lead to other forms of expression, and to goals that become clearer to you as you go. It may lead to writing plays, poetry or fiction. I took a journey to India and in a small library found a book by Anaïs Nin, another model of a daily writer. According to Nin, “Expression is tied to awareness… and our awareness is somehow connected to language.” She dedicates a chapter to Ira Progoff’s “Intensive Journal Writing.” His ideas delve even deeper into journaling, using more direct methods to help us unfold our stories. Later I found Progoff workshops offered locally. This is but another avenue available after you get started on the road to Morning Writing.
My best advice comes last: Don’t wait until you have more time – or worse, when you retire – to start writing. I’ve heard a ninety-five year old say just that, and still she hasn’t started her writing.
Kelley Morehouse is a Morning Writer, poet and founding member of the Silverton Poetry Association. She encourages correspondence with those interested in this topic.