Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing on an empty mind

I have two habits that I do every morning. I write ten things that I'm grateful for. Then I write a morning page, you know, like The Artist's Way.

But I have a third habit that I justified in the morning with the excuse that I was looking for something to write about. I trawl the internet looking for topics to write about.

In the last few days, I've been working on a new habit. No internet prior to the gratitude list and the morning pages. I decided to do this for several reasons. First and foremost, to open the lines of communication between The Great Creator and my mind. The bargain I have with The Great Creator is this: I provide the quantity, He provides the quality. I consider this a great bargain because it allows me to reach farther, to stretch my mind, to find the last ounce of intelligence in my sleep-deprived brain (I'm raising two small children and the early morning is the best time for me to write).

The second reason is that for me, writing is a sort of meditation. The gratitude list and the morning pages are just for me. I just write for the sake of writing and nothing more. I write the gratitude list to show my creator, the one that I'm not even really sure exists, but that I have faith in, that I have gratitude at all. And I do. Believe me, there was a time in my life when I could find no gratitude in my poor beleaguered heart. Writing that list every day reminds me that there is something to be grateful for, whether things are going well or not.

The morning page is just that. I pour out everything that is on my mind there. Kids, wife, politics, some new thing I read about, whatever is on my mind, it goes there. I've found that writing that page empties my mind and prepares me for the day. Everything that I've really needed to say, but have no one to talk to about it, yeah, that goes there. I have friends I can call later to talk about this stuff, and I can talk to my wife, Alice. But I wake up long before the break of dawn to write, so there are few to talk to about it then, when it's pouring out onto my morning page. 

There is no purpose to the morning page other than to write. I fill up one page and I'm done. I move on. I don't worry about mistakes, or subject matter. The goal is to fill the page, no matter what.

These tasks prepare me for the next one: blogging. I believe that blogging is a healthy exercise. I blog for my audience to be sure, but in a way, it is a selfish act. I find and create content that I want to write about. Yet, there is something about writing that I love. Sharing it. Writing is just no fun if I can't share it world wide, instantly.

I do my research. And I do make mistakes, like yesterday, mistaking Illinois for Indiana. That was embarrassing. I blame that mistake on the game, Monopoly. But I fixed it from my car, using my phone. I'm not here to be anyone's hero. I write because I believe in the practice of civil discourse, of sharing ideas and letting you, the reader decide if you like what I write or not. 

My goal is to make a living as a writer, and that reminds me of Mark Twain who said, "Write for free until somebody pays you." So that's what I'm doing. I write because I enjoy writing. I share it with you because there is no greater satisfaction in writing anything than sharing it.

I start with an empty mind because I can't think of a better way to start the day and prepare to write.
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