Day 3 of #1000wordsofsummer 2018

Good morning, friends.

Today you will write 1000 words and it might be hard, but it will happen and you will be proud of yourself afterward and how often do we get to be proud of ourselves? What a feeling, pride. It's easier to be proud of someone else, usually. Set yourself up today for one little boost of joy over something you've accomplished.

My plan today is to be done with my work by noon so that I can ride my bike down to the French Quarter and take the ferry to Algiers, which I have never done before. I want a character of mine to do it in my book. Could you also wander out in the world and do something your character might do? Surely you will get something good and interesting out of the experience.

Today's words of wisdom come from Laura van den Berg, who has written two story collections, the wonderful novel FIND ME, and her newest book, THE THIRD HOTEL, forthcoming in August, which I have read, and is dreamy and intelligent and a unique piece of fiction. Laura is a sharp reader and greatly disciplined. Also, she teaches at Harvard which probably impresses me more than it should, but it does, so there.

"For a long time, I never had a morning routine. Mornings were for caffeinating and feeding the dog; I didn’t give them much thought. But last fall, my job expanded and though this was a welcome change in some ways, I could foresee what it meant for my writing time—or, more accurately, for the headspace I need to make any time I spend writing worthwhile. I needed to figure out how to open some new rooms in my brain and to keep those doors propped open and since I am artistically useless after about four in the afternoon, I decided to reconsider my mornings.

I made a deal with myself: wake up an extra hour early and spend part of that time reading and the other part handwriting. Other days, I would work more, but this morning routine is something I would do daily, no matter what. Mornings came to feel like a blueprint for the rest of the day, as I felt my imagination continuing to work on whatever I had written in that early quiet. I find that it's critical to stay in close contact with a project, so I am putting new words down and also so that the subconscious stays activated. This subtle shift in practice became a way to stay “in contact” even as there were intense demands on my time.

We are all different people with different responsibilities. Maybe you can only do thirty minutes or maybe you can listen to a recording of a story you love while you walk the dog. Maybe you are artistically useless in the morning and would benefit from being more intentional about your nights. Here is the bottom line: I think often of what a painter said to me at a residency: 'works makes more work.' Indeed it does. Let’s do what we can."

Get to work,