Write Your Way to Presence

This simple writing meditation allows you to get present whenever you have a few free moments. 

Get a notebook (or a few sheets of paper and a pen), set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and let your thoughts flow on the page. Allow yourself to become present on the page simply by observing what's going on for you in this moment. Feel free to write whatever comes up or use these questions to help guide you. Be specific and tell the truth. You don't have to show this writing to anyone else.

How does your body feel?

  • Is your neck tight?
  • Are you shoulders shrugged?
  • Is a small headache brewing?
  • Are you sore from yoga class?

What’s on your mind?

  • Are you thinking about the conversation you had recently with your sister/best friend/family acquaintance?
  • Are you writing out your grocery list?
  • Are you worried about work or something going on in your career?
  • Do you wish others could read your mind instead of figuring out how to say what you mean?

How’s your spirit?

  • Are you having fun and engaging in soul-fulfilling activities this week?
  • Do you feel connected to the universe?
  • Are you craving more synchronicity and magic? 
  • How have you expressed your soul desires recently?

For more tips and ideas, check out this article I wrote about bringing more mindfulness to your writing practice. 

Morning Practices to Spark Your Creative Energy

If you are as voracious as I am about maintaining a creative life, then you’ve probably heard a few stories about how other creative people structure their morning, their day, their life, etc. It seems like we are all searching for the perfect routine. We want to know how successful creatives stay focused and invite the muse in.

I like to say that I’ve got to create a life that nourishes my writing life. Athletes train for their events, and writers need to stay on top of their game too.  

Did you know that Simone de Beauvoir would start her day with tea around 10 a.m. and work until 1 p.m? Then she’d take lunch with friends and go back to work from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Ernest Hemingway would write every morning “as soon after first light as possible… and write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and you know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again,” according to a Paris Review article in 1958.

Ludwig van Beethoven made a strong cup of coffee each morning, counting out exactly 60 beans for his morning cup.

Georgia O’Keeffe would wake at dawn to sip her tea in bed, then take a morning walk around her New Mexico neighborhood. Then, she would get to her studio and start painting.

You can read more about many creative geniuses and their routines in the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.

One super important note from his book: most artists throughout history have kept a day job, so don’t use the excuse of time to let your creative dreams go. Toni Morrison developed the habit of writing at 5 a.m. because it was the only free time before her kids would wake up and she’d have to go to work.

Ok, so here’s a version of mine. Please know that it is always subject to change. Some days I get inspired and write first thing, other days I get up and catch an early yoga class.

7 a.m.- 8 a.m. Wake Up
Linger in bed and try to remember my dreams, say a short prayer of gratitude for a new day, look out the window and see nature, remember it’s all really a dream. Drink water. Switch my phone from airplane mode to on and check Instagram—I love seeing pictures and inspirational messages first thing in the morning. Check email. I keep trying to break this habit, but I’m just too damn curious.

8:15 a.m. Morning Pages
I like to capture my thoughts first thing in the morning alá Julia Cameron (who I studied with in NYC for a year). Learn more about MPs in an article I wrote for Omega Institute.

8:45 a.m. Stretch, Breath, Meditate.
I don’t have a formal practice, but try to stay quiet and let any feelings or thoughts come to the surface that might need some attention. I like to practice alternative nostril breathing to ground and create balance in my body.

9 a.m. Move it!
I tend to take a walk, go on a run, or do a workout video in my office. Big ups to: www.fitnessblender.com, www.toneitup.com, and www.doyouyoga.com.

9:30 a.m. Joy Party Breakfast
I make a smoothie, fry a duck egg, heat up leftover veggies, or if I’m super lucky eat a “breakfast cookie” and make a matcha latte. I try to make my breakfast with a joyful exuberance for the day, so I might play music and dance around, make jokes with my boyfriend and be super goofy, or listen to a podcast. 

10 a.m. Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
I like to start my day with one project that can be completed in the morning time. I’m super competitive (yes, even with myself), so I like to begin the day knowing I can soon check something off my list. It can be as small as an invoice or as large as a writing or researching a story that’s due that week. Many times, it’s tackling a few emails that need replies. I tend to write at least 2 or 3 to-dos for each day and try my best to make them happen.  

Have the Courage to Write Your Shitty First Draft

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.” 

~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I like to tell my clients that they just have to find an entry point into the story. You don’t have to know where it will lead, but you have to have the courage to set a timer and commit to writing for a little while. Twenty minutes always feels doable for me. Take a walk without an end destination. Let yourself be messy. Remember to love yourself up through the process. Forget every beautiful word you’ve ever read and allow your mind to wander through the Neverland of your own delight. Focus on that one image or story that you’d like to tell, and don’t worry about how you will get to the next one. Call in the human collective, when you need support. We are all trying to figure out this thing called life and know that all the flaws and typos and strange sentence structures can get worked out later. Give yourself permission to dance on that page to whatever song is flowing through you and don’t stop until the music pauses.