This morning, Becca posted a wise prompt that I needed to be reminded of. She says:
How about you? Do you do writing exercises or warm ups? Do you think they could be valuable? Have you found warm up exercises helpful in some other area of your life, e.g. art, music, athletics?

I find this prompt particularly appropriate these days because I’ve been stumbling in my morning writing practice. I’ve been doing it, but getting the words on the page, without simply listing my worries and concerns has been harder and harder as I get further and further into the semester. (Luckily, the end is in sight now – only 34 days until the end of finals). I need something to get me going in the morning, and I haven’t been able to find it lately.

For a while, I was using books on writing – particularly Gayle Brandeis’ Fruitflesh – as a place to find exercises and write them out. Those worked particularly well because, as Becca notes, sometimes the really objective stuff that is out of my frame of reference can really get me going. Lately, I’ve been reading Writers on Writing:Essays from the New York Times before I start to write, and while I really enjoy reading the wisdom of people like Alan Cheuse or Jane Smiley, I find myself pondering their ideas more than I do writing. So I’m kind of back to a place where I need something more direct to write from.

I might try something that Brenda Miller: taking a line from a poem and using that as the first line that you write in the morning. My friend Piotr just brought me Czeslaw Milosz’s Collected Poems, so maybe I’ll try using those as prompts for a while.

The bottom line is that I need something thoughtless to do to get my writing ideas going or else I end up buried in plans and responsibilities. Can anybody relate?