Morning Rituals

Novels have particular resonance with me. I promised myself for a long time, more than half my life, that ‘one day’, I would write a book. Thankfully, something did click a few years ago, and I have managed somehow to stack the pages up, and make the narrative flow. In reality, my book is teetering very much on the cusp of being born. But novels are not the only things that I love to write, or even need to write. Although I love the creative ferment that comes with novel writing, the title that flies into your head like a swallow in a headwind, promising so much; the possibility of following a trail – an interesting topic, an overheard conversation, a new period in history, all the potentialities glittering like sweets in a jar – my wordy imagination doesn’t stop at novels. Every day, as part of my morning ritual, I also write a diary. In 2021, that sounds a bit fuddy-duddy, a hardback black book with thin blue lines, too much angst and introspection (which as writers, we assuredly do not need more of). But that is not my sort of diary at all.

For my diary I use Jamie Ridler’s seasonal journal, and I use collage as much as words. Jamie is a creativity coach who lives in Toronto. I’ve done various courses with her over the years and am a great devotee of her thoughtfulness and insight as well as playfulness. She’s a great teacher! I buy her journal as a download and get it printed and bound locally. At this point, I would be lost without checking in with it every morning, its become the way I start my day and it really grounds me. When I bought my first one, I suddenly had an explosion of awful happenings and thought I’d be putting it aside (I was very upset) but really it acted as a safety net to catch all the debris. It has been invaluable ever since. I’m a bit of a hoarder of magazines (Flow and Kinfolk, vintage Country Livings, Mary Jane’s Farm) and I often use these for the collage element of my diary. I love words but sometimes visuals win out, offering me a map to places I cant find in any other way. It’s inviting terrain, bright and rich and textured. 

I don’t light candles or meditate. I don’t treat it with much reverence at all. Its just part of my morning like a pocket is part of my coat. I have collage cuttings stuffed haphazardly into a drawer, and coloured pens that are getting fainter by the day, and a glue stick. That’s it. Often I pull out the right image for my mood immediately, sometimes, I sit on the floor and play around with them for a few minutes. Often, I have tea at the same time.

I choose an image that sums up my mood, and I choose my word for the day ahead. Recent ones have been: hope, gather, wonder, calm. It’s all very uplifting. Sometimes, I write immediately, I write up my night-dreams, plans for the day ahead. At 8am, words rattling around in my head often want to roll out, marble like, on the page. That’s okay. I don’t judge their colour or their shininess; they just are. Other times, I wait until night-time and sit in bed summing up the day, highlighting the good. I try not to be negative. Realistic is acceptable. 

I think keeping a diary aerates my brain, taking off steam like one of those upturned bird funnels in a pie, and I enjoy the fact it invigorates my connection with language, making it, I think just a bit more pliable. I don’t write for a readership or with any thought of it being read, so sometimes its very messy. It’s nice to not care about these things, to be a writer and just write.

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