When do you do your best work? I find that working first thing in the morning is more surprising, more productive, more creative, than if I put it off until later in the day. Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, advises that we write three pages first thing every morning, with no thought, censorship or revision. These morning pages free up creative ideas and get rid of complaints, worries, niggles etc that can stifle creative ideas before they take form. I use them when I’ve got out of the habit of writing (e.g. after a hot, sumptuous summer). Some people use them every day for years, and the results can be phenomenal. And they work for artists in any discipline: they’re not just for writers.
Before I start sounding evangelical, let me say that they’re not for everyone, and I sometimes find that writing the morning pages takes up creative fuel I’d rather use in a more directive way – to draft a poem, for example, or plot out a story. But I do find that writing as soon as I wake up (OK, after making a cup of coffee) helps me to write and to play with ideas.
All this brings me in a roundabout way to my current work: writing a group of poems in response to some wonderful photographs taken by a friend back in the heady days of Women’s Liberation, Squatters Unions, and the first stirrings of Rock Against Racism and Rock Against Sexism. Fascinating stuff, and something I’m finding a challenge. I don’t want to write agitprop or polemic, but I do want to do justice to the political ferment of the time. And writing first thing is helping me to discover what I want to write and how I might do that.
If you want to get in touch, please email me on Caroline.Gilfillan@btinternet.com