First things first, you have everything you need right now to be an amazing writer.
You can live a good writing life alongside your commute and responsibilities. With limited time and without a room of your own. You’re a writer because of the pleasure you take in lovely pens, or perfect sentences or great books you want to read all afternoon.
Believe you have vital stories to share. Accept that true and courageous writing takes into account your experiences and ideas. Understand that others will be excited to read, hear and learn from your words.
All that said, if you need a creative boost, why not try the Write & Shine method for creativity? We run a programme of morning writing workshops in peaceful locations and online following five key principles to encourage morning creativity. Here they are:
- Rise early
When we wake, the creative element of our brains, the prefrontal cortex, is most active.
So, we’re incredibly sensitive to the sights and sounds of our environment. It’s the best time to think, dream and imagine.
Try to set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual, or sleep with your curtains open. As soon as you wake, go straight to your notebook. Stay in bed or sit in the morning light at a table, and fill a few pages with whatever is in your mind. This is Julia Cameron’s technique of starting the day with ‘morning pages’. It’s a way to capture the edge of dreams, tune into your subconscious and create spaciousness in your mind.
- Generate material
By writing, we learn to write and learn to have faith in our own voices. Try freewriting by hand. That is, writing rapidly and continuously, and forgetting grammar, punctuation and structure. It’s a great way to let go of doubts and self-criticism, and to capture new, unexpected ideas.
The chance for feedback from the tutor and other writers can help improve writing, but sharing the drafts too early can damage confidence or hinder creativity. In the morning, your main aim should be to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!).
Modern life is endlessly stimulating and busy, so it’s challenging to focus on the moments you’re living through. The physical act of holding the pen brings you into the present. Writing by hand is a simple, mindful practice that helps you develop the ability to listen to your words.
Use the first part of the day to generate new material you can hold in your mind during the day, and explore and shape when you return to the page later.
- Value the process
As writers, we’re often facing questions about the work we’ve produced and our publishing credentials. But writing without destination is one of the joys of creativity.
Delighting in the process of writing is much easier to do in the morning. I once heard Marlon James explain how he deals with the fear of writing. He said, ‘My inner critic doesn’t like getting up early so I get up before him.’ Writing early offers a clear space before the demands of the day emerge.
So, what if you trusted you were on exactly the right path? And the hard work would pay off? And the journey would take you where you needed to go?
- Daily timed exercises
Each morning, set a watch for 15 minutes and write until the time is up. Then stop, stretch, and make a cup of tea or take a break. When you return to your notebook, you may realise you’ve written one or two interesting phrases. At the very least, you’ll have increased your output, and perhaps tricked yourself into starting to write that day.
Developing a daily morning writing routine helps build stamina and trust in your own abilities. With practice, at 5 minutes, you’re exploring new thoughts. At 10 minutes, you start to uncover some original themes. At 15 minutes, you see you have an abundance of ideas: the words keep appearing and you have plenty to say.
These exercises may not be the essays, poems or stories you intend to share, but they are the route towards them. The first idea. The beginning or prompt for pieces to develop further.
- You have everything you need, so use what you have
Let the stuff of life stimulate your writing. Cultivate a habit of noticing the world around you and collecting materials from everyday life as inspiration. Find dusty old maps, gather photographs abandoned in charity shops, make a scene with Lego figures, cut out an article from the morning’s Metro.
Use the seasons of the year as a source of inspiration. Describe how the light falls on your page in the morning. Write about the night sky. Discover which flowers are in season. Find out the most unusual international holidays that month (anyone celebrate Spaghetti Day in January?). These are all potential creative writing exercises and storylines.
So, in conclusion, rise early, write frequently and be open to inspiration everywhere. Writing in the mornings is the very best way to fuel creative thinking and to uncover bright, brilliant new ideas.
Write & Shine runs a programme of workshops and online courses gathering people to write together in the morning light. We welcome busy Londoners seeking space for creativity in their lives. Our sessions are open to everyone, whether you’re new to writing, have some experience or simply want to enjoy an energising and inspiring start to your day!
Gemma Seltzer, a writer and experienced workshop tutor, founded Write & Shine in 2015. She facilitates the sessions, along with a roster of guest tutors.
Take advantage of the longer days with Write & Shine’s summer season of morning creative writing workshops, retreats and online courses, beginning 6 June. Find out more and book your place here: https://write-and-shine.com
Photo credit: Rachel Cherry Photography