Saturday, February 08, 2014

Writing is my morning coffee

I learned to write in school as so many of us do, by hand. While school teaches us the basics, grammar, spelling, punctuation - we have to do the rest. We add the creativity, the tone, inflection, the pace, the perspective. We give life to the characters in the alphabet.

There is something quite fascinating to me in the process of writing. I can take an idea in my head, put it here in the computer, and then send it to many people, all at once, if I choose. I love watching the words stream onto the page, one by one, mirroring the words in my head. Sometimes I don't know where they come from, but I satisfy the urge to put those words in front of me by writing.

I gathered enthusiasm with writing as a kid. I am hard of hearing, so I don't fare so well in conversations. As a kid I lost every argument I ever had with my sisters. Why? By the time I was able to figure out what they were saying, formulate a response and delivery, they were already onto the next subject. So I conceded speaking to writing.

If I have a disagreement with someone, I can write a letter to them, as I have done many times before. I can organize my thoughts, create a coherent structure to what I want to say, and have the last word, all without being interrupted - I just hate being interrupted. It's me against the paper, and the paper loses every time. The reality, though, is that the paper is my friend. At least he was my friend before the digital age.

Since the dawn of the digital age in my life, I've forsaken handwriting for typing. I learned to type in high school, thinking, "Hey, I might meet a girl in typing class. I might even have a use for this later in life. I mean, I'm going to work for Dad as a sheetmetal worker, but I'll take this class, just in case." Good call.

Writing on a computer is a joy because I can hit backspace to clear a mistake and I can move anything I want around. I recall the days of typing a paper, and realizing that I needed to move a paragraph on the piece of paper in the typewriter. Natch! I'd have to rewrite that page again and I hated that. But when the computer came along, that all changed.

I took a few college classes in the 90s in social studies, thinking I wanted to be a counselor. I can recall the grades I used to get on my papers at Cypress College. I got A's for my writing almost universally. Putting those papers together on a computer completely changed my attitude about school. With a computer, school became fun because the writing became fun. I loved doing the research, the analysis and then putting it into a file on a computer. Then I'd print it out and turn it in and get feedback from the professor. That was a source of joy for me.

Just a quick thought. I know that plagiarism and ghosting are common in college today. This is something I don't understand. Why would anyone want to miss out on writing a term paper? I never needed to copy from anyone else or to have a ghost writer for my papers, no sireee. That task is mine, all mine and I would never give that up to anyone. I love writing papers!...but I digress.

I didn't start getting into writing for others until I started this blog, around 2006. Then I thought I'd just write for fun and share it with others. That's something I really enjoy. I love the process of watching words come from seemingly nowhere, to this moment, on this page and it all makes sense.

I've experimented with writing during different times of the day. The morning works best for me and I know this from experience. My most creative times are in the morning and I could never figure out why. I've tried writing in the evening, but by then, I'm spent from the day, and the words don't come easy. In the morning, I'm fresh and ready to pour the contents of my brain onto the page.

I write a morning page every day. I just set up a word processing document in LibreOffice and type a full page in the same document every day, each page headed by the date and the day. This is my morning exercise. A warm up for the blog. I do this in the morning to let myself talk about the stuff that no one else wants to hear. To ramble on about what happened yesterday and grouse about some perceived slight or inconvenience. To think through an idea when its time has come. I have found that this makes me more available, more receptive to other people for the rest of the day. Now I feel uncomfortable if I miss it even for one day. I am not perfect, but I make sure I write a morning page every day.

I'm a father in training and I have a one year old kid whom I love so dearly. I want to give her as much time as I can. But I also need to write. So I make sure that she's sleeping when I'm writing. Thus, I have tried waiting for the evenings to write. I had to give that up for a very simple reason. Writing is like caffeine for my brain. The last time I tried writing at night, I was awake for two hours after that and simply could not get to sleep any sooner.

There I was, fresh from an evening sprint on my blog, and all I could do was think. I just could not stop the gears from turning in my head. Voices, words, and ideas were all dancing in my head, vying for space on a page somewhere. While I was trying to get to sleep.

So writing is reserved for the early morning hours, when everyone else is asleep. It's about 4:30 am now. I don't know how long I've been writing. But I'm glad to be here.
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