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What I Write in My EarlyWords

(Originally published on the EarlyWords blog.)

The simple answer is, whatever I happen to be thinking at that moment.

EarlyWords was inspired by morning pages, a practice espoused by Julia Cameron in her seminal book, The Artist’s Way. She recommends three pages of stream of conciousness writing, by hand, first thing in the morning. EarlyWords is designed to facilitate writing up to seven hundred and fifty words (approximately three pages) once a day.

I use it as a morning pages practice. I’m not writing by hand, like Cameron suggests, but because I do so little handwriting in my life, it is far better for me to write my morning pages with a computer keyboard.

Stream of conciousness means exactly that. I write exactly what I am thinking at that moment.

Not incidently, that means my EarlyWords almost always start out very much the same. I write that I am writing my EarlyWords. I usually mention the time and date. I like to know what time I am getting started, in part because how long it takes for me to get started on my EarlyWords is a good proxy for how productive a day I’m going to have. The other reason is that I find it very unpleasant to start EarlyWords so I am usually trying to figure out how long it is going to take and when I am going to be done.

Sometimes at that point, if I was preoccupied with something that morning I’ll shift to that. Often, I’ll just write about how unpleasant the process is and how that feels.

Something shifts around that time. I start writing about my feelings and thoughts, not even writing about them, literally just writing them down. And with that exploration, interesting things come out.

The hard part is not filtering. I type my thoughts as quick as they come, as quick as I can, without concern if they are right, wrong, self-consistent, polite, well-articulated, or correct in spelling or grammar.

The result is something I would be very embarrassed about if anyone ever saw it, so the security of the EarlyWords site is extremely important to me. I also turned on the setting to automatically scramble my entries after fourteen days, making them unintelligible and unrecoverable.