Discipline is a measure of degree, usually the third degree we give ourselves for not having enough. Every writing coach urges us to get our butts down in the chair and get something down on paper as regularly as possible. The possible being that great unknown at our fingertips. One word leads to another, but what is that first word? Once upon a time starts many a fairytale, and the tale we tell ourselves about being a writer might as well start there. I picked 7:00 a.m. as my starting time, once I realized 6:30 was just too Spartan for my body clock. Leaving the last half cup of yesterday’s coffee on my desk eliminates the time consumption of having to brew a fresh cup to get started, although medical science and my aesthetically conscious bride might disagree with my assessment. Nonetheless, today, the first Monday of my new experiment in conscious productivity I was in place and typing by 7:08.
I’ve just begun teaching a creative writing course at a local private school so I had the great fortune of reading some student’s homework assignments to get my brain literally thinking before I ventured into carving a new paragraph into the rockface of one of my personal projects. A trick I also use to start the game of word play is to read a page or two from a few different books that I stack on my desk as ‘kick starters”. I don’t read to get into following the story as much as to reregister my place in the pantheon of wordsmiths. A bit of fiction, a biography, some poetry, maybe a political article, and some Scripture is usually enough to goad me into productive gear.
Setting a time limit allows my household to know how long to leave me, be as well as create the demand of the ticking clock as a focus element. A minute is to an hour like a sentence is to a page, I don’t care which you count as long as you make it count. I use the same piece of music for writing that I use for casting myself off into dream land, a symphonic composition of Sibelius. It’s a few shades above white noise as a distraction barrier while not being so close to the actual music I enjoy to pull me into be-bopping when I should be blog/slogging. It also runs about the same time as my designated writing period so it moves me in the right direction while providing a permissive backdrop to insight, epiphany, climax and denouement.
I’m from the generation that can quote TV as a legitimate cultural reference and so I can both “Love it when a plan comes together” and “Pity the fool” who doesn’t have a writing plan. (The A-Team if you have to Google the reference). I’ve got about twelve minutes left to today’s session, which is just about enough time to spell check and copy and paste this to the website. The almost smug satisfaction I gain from this first day of the week triumph ought to hold me over until some personal electronic device asks me for a password. Every journey starts with a single something or other, the word escapes me for the moment, but not for long as I’ll be back at it tomorrow.