I write a little, sometimes a lot, first thing every morning, when the house is quiet and just my dogs and cats and I are stirring. As one writing teacher or writing book I may have read put it: writing everyday helps one learn to put truth on paper.
Sometimes my truth looks no more interesting than a to-do list, a schedule, or needed groceries. But sometimes, veritable chunks of gold appear beneath my pen. And yes, this particular writing is not done on a computer, but the old-fashioned way, pen to paper, collected in notebooks. It’s so peaceful this way, and completely mobile. I can gravitate to the garden on nice mornings and smell the roses in more ways than one.

I’ve saved every notebook, too, filling a whole crate of them now, though I cannot think exactly why. The basis of my memoirs? Doubtful, highly doubtful. The only referring back I’ve ever done was to carry my notebook down to my computer when I started back to work to transfer the ideas I’d received to a current project.

This morning process is especially helpful when working out plotting or character issues as a story is being developed. It’s amazing what my subconscious mind can fix while the rest of me sleeps. Answers, insights, new directions miraculously appear out of thin air, literally.

I’ve realized that when I do get stuck in a story, problems are more easily worked through when I’m writing the way we all learned to write, with paper and pen. Don’t get me wrong, the computer is essential, a huge leap forward for long-form fiction writers, all writers I’m sure. I could not do without. But for especially sticky or tricky or deep questions, this process has really helped me move through.

This part of my morning ritual is a little more California-esque, but I also use that silent morning time to meditate on channeling God’s own truth through me onto the page and out into the world. Whether He’s cooperating or not, it’s a moment of solitude that is a wonderful way to start each day.

All of this has helped me take the last big step I needed as a writer, in my opinion. I have learned deep respect for the power of language. After a lifetime of too often shooting from the hip, enjoying my own sarcasm, being flip, I’ve come to appreciate how severely words can cut, and how impossible it is to ever take them back or have them be forgiven and forgotten. On the flipside, words can move us together and help us understand. And since as a writer, I would want my legacy to be the latter, then being circumspect, at least being extremely conscious of the words I use and their potential once I’ve released them, becomes job number one. That has turned something I initially hated into something I now enjoy, that is editing once the writing is done. It’s true, writing is editing, at least good writing, conscious of its potential effect, is editing.

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