Writing and Coffee

Amy Carr and I started a writing support group on Monday nights. One of our members, the brilliant DeBorah Gray, (“MaMa Dee”) offered this assignment from a writing contest. Use the following words in a piece:

butter, music, coffee, constellation, illumination, window pane.

Here’s what I wrote during last week’s ten minute in-class writing exercise.

There is nothing I like better than coffee, no friend as dear or faithful. Every morning my coffee is there for me. Friends, lovers, or husbands may come and go, but my coffee will remain.

I sometimes whisper to myself, “First sip of the day,” right before I take the first sip of the day.

I feel illuminated, lit from within. I take my pen to paper. I begin to write. I write about three pages long-hand every morning, a la Julia Cameron‘s The Artist’s Way. Sometimes I stop writing to stare out the windowpane at the empty, abandoned courtyard outside my kitchen.

I lose my flow. I long for a constellation of meaning. I begin to dread the next task, having to wake the kids. I hate, hate, hate having to rustle the kids out of bed. It is my lowest part of the day. When I have to set down my notebook and pen and take up the harpy role.

I have to shift from writer to mother. Ugh. All I want to do is write. I feel irritated that I have to do anything else, like butter my children’s toast or pay the bills.

I turn the radio up loud, alerting the kids that life is happening.English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

I detest the move from solitude to sharing space. I feel ill prepared to assume the responsibility of motherhood.I love my children, but honestly, first thing in the morning, I love my coffee and writing more.

Creative Writing Improves Health

Through a screen, this is this morning's view as I write in my journal.

I write about feeling unnoticed or unappreciated; I also write about feeling grateful and lucky. Today’s list was long.

One of the things I’m grateful for is this daily habit of writing. I journal every morning.

Here’s why:

Writing provides clarity. I come to the end of my three pages of handwritten catharsis with a deeper understanding of some of the puzzles of my life. Nothing’s resolved, but the clean sheets are hung out to dry. I can see what I’ve got.

Journaling improves health. The physical effects of journaling are similar to the effects of meditating. My breathing slows down. My attention turns inward.

Writing documents the journey. I can reassure myself that things aren’t that bad, or confess that they are worse. My written words, once laid out, give me a benchmark if I should ever look back. But I never look back.

Journaling taps into my unconscious. Writing first thing in the morning, I dump my dreams on the page. They make no sense, yet are telling me something, some bubbled-up, mixed-up message. In looking at my dreams, I take the position that I am every character. I am more than me.

This blog is about health and fitness. Journaling is part of my mental and psychic fitness. It is my therapy. And journaling every morning is cheaper and more convenient than talk therapy. I began this morning habit ten years ago following the path of Julia Cameron’s guidebook, The Artist’s Way. I heard her speak years ago at Marble Collegiate Church. Loved her then. Love her now.

I write a lot more about creative writing at my blog, The Connected Life. http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/ There, I document unplugging the kids from their media and all things writing.

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I did not write today

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I did not start my day writing. I usually wake at 6:30 to write my morning pages. Every day, three long-hand pages. Just about every single day for the last 10 years, inspired by Julia Cameron’s creativity course, The Artist’s Way. But I wasn’t feeling it today.

I did not write about the sacred or the profane. I did not write about the underside of leaves. The way they turn white when the wind blows on an early summer day as I ride my bike through Riverside Park.

I did not write about my kids. Or my woes — the way I feel lonely or overworked or unaccomplished. No, I did not write about any of that today.

But I wrote about what I did not write about. So I wrote something. I wrote this. This.

And this is all.