Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ready. Set. Go!

Twenty minutes each morning—whether I’m ready to write or not, whether I’m sleepy or awake, whether my back aches or my fingers hurt—I write.

Fast. Nonstop. For twenty minutes.

It’s like digging fast. Just digging. Taking a shovel. Putting it into the earth. Lifting soil. Repeat. Again and again. Twenty minutes. Each day.

There’s something about getting the hand in motion, about the brain-hand-motion relationship, that starts the words flowing and gives access to a part of the brain ordinarily hidden.

Come out, shy brain!

These morning pages—twenty minutes, fast!—seem to awaken it, help it move into the light, help the words form and begin flowing down my arm to my pen.

I can’t say why it happens or how it works—like how I can’t say why a car engine comes on when I turn the ignition key. All I know is that it works and the car will take me where I want to go.

(On some level I’m curious, of course, but not curious enough to research the science behind it. Just knowing it works most days is enough.)

So, each morning I turn the key in the ignition. I pick up my pen. I open my journal. I click the start button on my timer (which I set for 20 minutes). And I write.

What I discover depends on so many things—my mood when I awake; what might have happened yesterday (or last week) or right before I went to sleep; what I might have dreamed about (or not dreamed); what I remember on a given morning; what emotions might rise to the surface.

Anything and everything can trigger a reason to write—a note on Facebook, a story in the paper or on the TV news, a conversation I had with my brother, thoughts about an upcoming trip, worries about a family member’s health.

I never know what will appear on the page before I sit down at my desk and begin. It is a mystery.

It’s a mystery that contains the question: “What happens next?”

Writing is the only way I know to answer that question.

What happens next?

Write... and find out.