MAKE YOUR OWN KIND OF MUSIC
This week we have some advice passed on to me from best-selling author Karleen Koen. Your assignment: Write something, anything, every morning. No need for prompts like those we gave you in a recent post. No, this exercise is completely freestyle.
Keep Your Mind and Fingers Nimble Every Day
As a writer, even if you aren’t working on a particular project, you will benefit greatly from daily practice, like Hemingway’s write-500-words-every-single-day devotion we mentioned in a recent post. And as we’ve also said before, even the world’s greatest musicians practice on their instrument every day. They hone their skills, keep their artistic inspirations fresh, and even discover new things about their talent.
Writing can actually be a lot like playing an instrument. Imagine sitting down at a piano and just playing around with the keys, plinking out a light, brief little ditty off the top of your head. Now compare that to sitting down in front of your computer and tapping out a few words, whatever comes to mind. You’re just goofing around, right? No pressure.
But you may stumble across a good setting, a useful piece of imagery, or some clever dialogue. You may even get to meet a character screaming out that she has a story to tell you, speaking to you from your brain to your fingertips as you “jam” on your instrument of choice, be it your computer or one of those yellow legal notepads or a beautiful Moleskine. (Have you ever heard of a Moleskine? They are legendary little pocket journals used for scribbling inspirations and ideas, cherished by artistic geniuses like Van Gogh, Picasso, and our pal Hemingway.)
Open Your Mind As Soon As You Open Your Eyes (and Maybe Yawn and Stretch, Too)
Koen believes in writing first thing in the morning. To Koen, it’s an exercise to get her brain going, not an attempt to generate useable copy. She suggests taking just about fifteen minutes, or maybe just three pages, whatever comes first, and simply writing whatever comes to mind. Best of all, she does this even before the coffee is ready. You can do it while you’re still in bed, even. At that time of the morning, your mind is still half-asleep, with one foot still in the wonderful, bizarre world of your dreams, where some of the best ideas come from.
Wash Your Face, Comb Your Hair . . . and Brush Up Your Writing Skills
Add to your morning ablutions a rinsing of your thoughts. Let them wash away from your mind and onto the page. It may just be a few hundred words of randomness, a jumbled mix of what you dreamt the night before and what’s on your mind about what you have to do that day. But there’s more than one reason this little exercise is so valuable.
Yes, it is a wonderful way to sow and eventually reap some great ideas, and practice is always beneficial, no matter what you are practicing. But you’ll have also put your thoughts in a writer’s mindset, right from the minute you wake up. You’ll be able to spend the rest of the day seeing the world through your writer’s eyes, even more sharply and acutely than you usually do. You will find a symphony of inspiration everywhere you look.
I guess it’s like waking up and putting on your glasses right away so you can see more clearly. Oh, I could compare this exercise to a million different beneficial behaviors, but the bottom line is: it’s great. So tomorrow morning, give it a try!