Tag Archives: Writing Tips

Write into the Sunrise

Lately I’ve been in the habit of spending my days fulfilling my commitments to other people – writing assignments, creativity coaching sessions, responding to correspondence, etc. It’s all good work that I enjoy, but there’s been a nagging sense of something missing – a barely perceptible existential cloud. Not serious but not great either.

So last night I made a date with myself to get up at 6:00 AM, go to my dining table (as opposed to my computer, which is associated with “real projects” – my own or someone else’s), light a candle and just write for 20 minutes – about nothing in particular. When the alarm went off this morning, it felt like an act of utter futility. But I gently urged myself out of bed, sat myself down with tea and timer, and just started writing. The phrase, “Write into the sunrise” popped into my head so I let it lead me. I wrote about the gulls and crows that seem to greet each day with the same level of noisy unnuanced enthusiasm, about the silver sheen of the water, about the glimmer of apricot light on daybreak’s indigo clouds… Nothing in particular, but I found myself paying more attention than I usually do. The morning light moves swiftly – it’s impossible to track it – but the glide of my black pen across the gleaming white page made me realize how important if not essential it is to make the attempt. It expanded my sense of possibility. It dissolved my existential cloud.

I’ve done this kind of exercise before – many times – I have the mounds of notebooks to prove it. I’ve often enjoyed it but there has always been a vague sense that it wasn’t real writing. There was no purpose. No one was going to read it. I’m beginning to think that that mode of thinking is a kind of madness – as though nothing has meaning unless it has been so decreed by some ego – whether it’s our own, someone else’s, or a cluster of unexamined socially endorsed assumptions.

We write or we make music or we make art because we can, because it’s a vital part of our humanity. We don’t need a reason. Just write into the sunrise, for heaven’s sake. Fall in love with your day.

Our Life is Our Writing Teacher

Without connecting to our truth, whatever we write has no meaning and no genuine connection with the reader. Our life is our writing teacher. Our life is the source of our true eloquence and unique voice as writers. Our life is our writing textbook.

Writing is soul work, not a mechanical process reducible to “how to’s.” It’s like making love. Knowing the mechanics of what bit goes where will not make one a better lover. The same is true of writing. It is the soul connection that is the source of our unique writer’s voice, and that is what our readers/listeners respond to. (It’s what our lover responds to as well!)

Writing is at essence an act of courage. Sometimes dark and difficult stories emerge from pen or keyboard. People are scared of pain and we live in a society that marginalizes it, but embracing our own difficult stories and attending to others’ is the source of our power and our humanity – both as writers and as people. Such stories are part of the human experience and they are universal.

We live in a wounded civilization and we inhabit a wounded planet. In the West, we are sheltered from a lot of that, but it doesn’t serve us as writers or as people to perpetuate that pattern. A large part of the writer’s role in our society is to shed light into the dark places. Sometimes we do that with humour; sometimes we do that with pathos. But whatever our means of sharing what’s true, we need to know our inner landscape to write with any real heart or authority.