Drafting on the wheels of Ann’s metaphor, yes, I can relate to Toad Head mornings, bleary-eyed, cold-blooded, and amphibian-brained, fighting to get up for the task at hand.
Longhand? On three pages? Every morning. 84 mornings in a row? You must be kidding.
Surprise, surprise: if you don't allow the Toad to wake up, it never shows up. What follows is a suggestion, not a prescription - a framework that seems to work for me - or so I think.
1. Each night: leave your pen parked on the empty page of your notebook, poised and waiting for your return in the morning. Turn off the lights. Get some sleep.
2. Before daybreak, 5:30 am - long before the alarm in your head goes off, beat the Toad Clock, roll out of bed. Follow your feet to your desktop, your workspace, your blank page. (Okay, you can stop to pee, but that’s it. No splash of water on your face, no taste of toothpaste, no jolt of caffeine.) Blast the light on, sit down and pick up your pen. Don’t think as you apply ink to paper.
3. The first line. Just throw it out there. Eyes don’t need to be focused, and t’s don’t need be crossed. You’ll see. In pre-conscious dawn, the fog will lift.
4. At the first glint of day, keep the pen moving, a steady, even hand on the page. You'll notice: how the wheels start spinning when you let your WriteBrain think for you. Don’t stop, don’t read, don’t edit, don’t make curlicue sentences. Do nothing but get down to the groundwork on paper, filling the page, moving forward, word for word, line for line, until you reach the finish. And there it is, 25 minutes – 30 minutes max. Done. Close your notebook. Are you awake? You bet you are. Focused, alert, energized, you are braced against the day, and open to its possibilities.
Like stretching tight muscles, like breathing in the practice of yoga, like reps in weight training, like building up a sweat on a bike, longhand freehand writing doesn’t just work the brain, it works the body. And just like any exercise, it only gets better with . . . exercise.
Thank you, thank you Ann. For opening the road and inviting us to come along. For the exercise. All good things will come of it.