I’ve been working through the idea of daily writing. I’ve experimented with it for the last three years, long periods of inaction broken by short frantic periods where I write daily for three weeks and then subside just before the repetitive action becomes a habit.
My daily writing generally takes the form of a ten minute free-thought exercise. Timer goes on for ten minutes, laptop or notebook is opened and I begin. Nothing pre-planned, nothing structured, just a quick mind dump of ideas. When the timer goes off I stop, save my work and move on with my day. Sometimes this is good. I get my ideas out, my mind quiets for a minute and I gain a sense of stable clarity.
Most days though, the pure act of stopping frustrates the hell out of me. Pausing in the middle of an idea and closing my laptop leaves my mind spinning in a certain free-fall. Ideas come quick and fast and I grasp them, fidget with them for a second and discard them as new ideas rise to the surface. It’s amazing how the act of recording the thoughts my mind conceives can cause my mind to create new thoughts. Sort of like digging in a scrap heap I guess. As you unearth ideas you begin to see the edges of new ideas buried deep below. Ten minutes later and you’re deep in a hole of your own choosing, attempting to dig upwards.
I was introduced to the ten minute ‘Morning Pages’ concept by a writer named Julia Cameron, but many others affirm its value. Lately I’ve been developing the concept in a new way. I still begin my day with a ten minute mind-dump, a meditative ritual to get the mind started, but as I wander through the day, if particular problems or ideas or thoughts come to mind that either worry or excite me, I use them as a fire-starter for a ten minute free-writing session. Same rules apply: timer on, notebook open, I begin. It’s wildly interesting to see how the physical act of expressing your thoughts in a digital/physical medium changes the way your mind toys with ideas. I find this act clarifies ideas, soothing my mind and also sparking my creativity.
The pure act of distilling my mind’s ramblings into cogent thought stops them trundling around the back of my mind, interfering with my day.