For the last two and a half weeks I have been working on a manuscript that was requested by an agent. As a result, I have gone through many of the journals I have kept over the years. I realize just how important writing is to me, not just as a craft but as a way to help keep my mind fresh and clear of clutter that can accumulate over time. I am sure most of you would agree that a calm mind supports health. This is the perfect time for me to repost my Writing for Health blog:
For most of my adult life I have kept a journal in which I write most mornings. It is kind of a ritual. Eat breakfast, write for 10 minutes, close it up and get on with my day. I never journal at night—only in the morning fresh from sleep, when my mind is closest to whatever juice might be lying just beneath the conscious level. This is where I get ideas for projects, a fresh look at my day, week, life and often an answer to something I have puzzled over. I find it helps keep my psyche clear, this pouring onto paper for a short sprint each day. It always surprises me with its contents, as if a part of me that is much wiser and less rattled with the day’s events comes to the fore.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I really stepped it up a pace or two after reading Natalie Goldberg’s revolutionary book WILD MIND. This book was inspired by her love of poetry, her practice of sitting meditation and her study with Alan Ginsberg, who changed the face of writing with his epic poem HOWL. (Ginsberg actually stepped in for her to teach at a seminar I took with her years ago.) She encourages with phrases like, “Let your insides lead you,” and “Go for the jugular.” The “rules” she advocates are: 1). Put your pen to the page for ten minutes and do not stop no matter what, “even if a bomb goes off.” 2).Do not worry about grammar and punctuation—just keep writing.
I invite you to do the same. Take ten minutes—preferably in the morning as you sit with your cappuccino or green tea. Get a clean page and a pen that is easy to write with, and go. If you need something to start your hand moving, try beginning with, “I will never forget…” or write a letter you will never send to someone you have something to ‘say’ to.
Lastly, do not judge yourself. Just do it. I am convinced that our journey toward serenity is filled with dark places. Words on the page are one way to become present with the experience, thoughts, feelings, and time worn memories that we embody. Let them come to the light for healing, reading or just to be thrown away. This awareness can lead to the changes we might need. There are many paths to health and for me, this is one.
Paul Caranicas says
Great post Maureen.
Jack Kerouac wrote in the way you describe, and he is the one who influenced Ginsberg. (Although he did not confine himself to ten minutes in the morning). A single page of his VISIONS OF CODY is so evocative, so full of ideas and atmosphere that it is equal to reading an entire book by someone else. This makes it a kind of prose poetry, and should be read slowly and not necessarily in the order it was published.
Thank you, Paul…your comment was just the inspiration I needed at this exact moment:)
Susan Baron says
I learned so much from you about writing the last time we met for lunch. Thank you! This fuels my creative fire.I can’t wait to read your book!