How to be a One Percenter, or 14 Minutes in Heaven

No Telling

It occurs to me that something’s awry. I’ve gotten out of my daily writing routine, which is particularly tragic on two different levels. First, because writing makes me happy and failure to scribble is a silly kind of self-flagellation. Second, because I have another site with almost 1,000 writing prompts that I’ve accumulated for students and strangers, but have failed to use a single one myself. Crazy.

Where did I go? How do we manage to slip ourselves in last place? I know it’s not just me. I’m confident there are a few of you out there who, right now, are fist-bumping the screen or talking to yourselves out loud. Nod with me and give me an amen. Too many of us.

Enough, I say. Time to fix this mess. I used to be in love with Morning Pages. For those of you unfamiliar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, here’s the gist of it…

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Occasionally colorful, more often than not Morning Pages are negative, fragmented, repetitive or bland. Good!  Worrying about your job, the laundry, the weird look your friend gave you – all that stuff distracts you from your creativity. It eddies through your subconsciousness and muddies your day. Get it on the page first thing in the morning and move on with your day with a freer spirit.”

I’ve done this. I have teacher friends who’ve done this. I have more students than I can count who have managed to do this morning page business. All of this despite the fact that they were too busy feeding children, falling in love, studying for chemistry, finding cheap shampoo, kissing boo-boos, folding underwear, or scraping out a living. After a few days, the morning page routine kicks in and the writing becomes easier, lovelier, automatic.

Not everyone can do the morning thing. I get that. Not everyone wants to write about themselves, and I get that too. The beauty of the thing is that there are no rules other than the three pages. I’ve found that even that is negotiable.

What I do have is 1,440 minutes in a day. Most is devoted to a mountain of duties for Other People, but I’m going to steal back 14 minutes. That’s less than ONE PERCENT of my day, your day, our day. To be an exact One Percenter, you’d have to write some portion of a minute longer, but don’t you dare.

Steal your 14 minutes when you want. Give yourself permission to take it. Write something dreadful and don’t worry about it. Scribble in a notebook, type like banshee, start it on a roll of paper towels. Doesn’t matter. Throw it away if you hate it. Share it, don’t share it – it’s your call.

I’m starting right now. Are you in?

(Image via Kitschy-Kitschy-Coo.com, a very cool site indeed)

5 thoughts on “How to be a One Percenter, or 14 Minutes in Heaven

  1. My regular writing has also lapsed – big time. I have, however, taken up running which, beyond its health and fitness benefits is making me realise that regular, repeated activity really does just do the job. I've decided to alternate my running sessions with writing sessions – one or the other each morning. If I can do the running, I can do the writing.

  2. “If I can do the running, I can do the writing.” You know it. I'm no runner, but I do some of my best writing after a long walk. All those endorphins make strong stories.

  3. I am so in! Partly because 14 minutes all to myself sounds like heaven. Partly because maybe getting the junk out of my head and on to paper will make me less crazy. Mostly because I've totally been out of my writing routine doing duties for Other People and it's the one thing I miss the most. Other than my 25-year-old body, of course.

  4. There's a headgame neatly woven into the 14 Minute scheme. See, I know that after Minute Seven everything starts falling into place – your voice re-emerges, metaphors begin redoubling – then clarity and hammer-writing. When you look up, it might be an hour later. The Zone.

    Assuming, of course, that no one asked you for dinner/a kiss/clean socks/a ride to whatever/your spare change.

    The beauty of it is that even if they steal the other 46, you had the first 14.

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