Three pages of daily morning writing is not difficult to fill. If I am not thinking of anything in particular, I start with where I am, what I am doing, talking out my schedule, or about my kitties who are trying to get my attention.
I went through two and a half pages of this type of writing when a series of things I have scheduled for tonight flashed through my mind, followed by a flash of my father and one word: Gagutz. Gagutz (ga-goots) are squash. The actual word for Italian squash is cucuzza, but my parent’s regional Italian accent turns the hard ‘c’ sound into a soft ‘g’ sound and drops the final ‘a’.
When my parents used the word gagutz, they were really talking about the squash flowers. A regional Italian dish of my father’s is deep fried gagutz (squash flowers), which my mother made. The squash flowers were obtained from our backyard garden that my mother grew each year. Fried gagutz was one of my father’s favorite dishes.
How my mind went from thinking about what I’m doing tonight to thinking of my Dad and one of his favorite food dishes is a mental mystery. I must have been thinking about my father subconsciously when I paused to consider what I wanted to write next. I would never have predicted that.
The chasm between the conscious and subconscious parts of the brain fascinates me. Supposedly, our brains process thoughts of which we are not aware when are sleeping and when we are thinking about something else. My conscious mind had its rapid-fire dump of tonight’s tasks when my subconscious pushed my father and gagutz loudly to the surface. This mental tangent illustrates an unexpected benefit to writing daily: I am able to better understand one way that writers get their ideas.
The next type of writing I want to add to my morning writing is a 15-minute slot for timed creative writing. In past creative courses, the goal of the timed writing exercises was to include as many sense-bound details as possible. These exercises helped flex my creative writing muscle, and I wrote richer, more interesting stories.
Step by step, I am learning to create a writing routine that will help me turn 2014 into my year of writing and writing better. I feel good about the process of making one small change, letting myself see how it feels, and then seeing how well (or not) that it is contributing to my writing goals. In all that I have done, this is the only trick I have ever learned that has helped me not get overwhelmed and move forward.