Vintage-Books-CAL logo

Keeping It Fresh

morgan maryjo faith
By Maryjo Morgan

Hundreds of articles into this writing life, I am still excited to get up each day, knowing I “get to write” today. If this sounds as if I am still on a honeymoon, maybe I am. It doesn’t matter whether I’m creating newsletter content, writing feature stories or tuning a bio. I love my job.

Several cross-country moves gave me significant learning opportunities in an array of critique group experiences. I learned the importance of showing up to write each day, whether I am on assignment or no, from these fine folks.

Every couple of years I work my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I get a kick out of seeing margin notations from previous journeys through the book, especially goals achieved.

Several things in addition to showing up have proved useful to my writing process. Each of the following practices has a place in my day or week, depending on deadlines and workload. I admit to occasionally skipping one or another. But being true overall to the process keeps me more engaged and happily productive.

Morning Pages

Morning pages are defined in The Artist’s Way as “ … three pages of longhand writing … strictly stream-of-consciousness … a brain drain … the act of moving the hand across the page and writing whatever comes to mind.” They wipe clean the white board in my mind and provide clarity. They help me dump budding ideas, brainstorms and rabbit trails all at one once. Freed, I don’t have to worry about loosing an idea or forgetting a spin or focus. Distracting thoughts go out with this disgorgement to be examined for promising seeds later. It is easier to concentrate with the clutter is gone. Morning pages refresh and prepare me for each work day of writing.

Artist Date

The Artist’s Way defines an artist date as, “… a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.” They give me an opportunity to indulge myself in creative endeavors. I visit gardens and museums, attend author talks, bead, read, watch the movie version of a book I’ve enjoyed or even allow myself the luxury of a Tattered Cover visit, unabashedly leafing through expensive coffee table tomes and volumes of poetry. Concerts, plays and other live performances all add up to fill my soul.

Timed Prompt Writing 

Writing to a prompt, writing based on that random idea pulls me get out of the thought patterns I circle within while on assignment. Five or ten minutes – it doesn’t matter. The exercise of putting down whole thoughts quickly helps set the pace for writing longer first drafts, too. Since I moderate a critique group weekly, it is my responsibility to whip out the timer and a prompt for each meeting. The sheer variety of stories this exercise produces within our Weekly Writers’ Workshop never ceases to encourage and inspire me. Even when we fall into one central theme, each story speaks in a unique voice. Many of  us have found novels or articles within the tiny starts in these prompts.

We have used fortune cookie slips and newspaper headlines, but most often our prompt ideas come from these sources:

·         Judy Reeves – A Writer’s Book of Days

·         Natalie Goldberg – Writing Down the Bones

·         Sue Viders – Deal A Story

·         Dawn DiPrince – Yoga for the Brain

·         Jack Heffron – The Writer’s Idea Book

·         A piece of fruit, flower, branch, or other “found objects”


I am fortunate that our critique group shares a blog, Under The Cuckoo Clock, so writing daily or even weekly is not my responsibility. I only have to create a post about every 4th week. Whew! Blogging requires me to think about something other than my current assignments, makes me dig a bit deeper, and allows me to have fun. All of this gives me more “umph” and even more desire to write, even when deadlines are staring at me and challenging assignments stymie me.

Reading Poetry

By far, the best gift I give myself at the start of each day when I first sit down at my desk is to read a poem. Poetry to me is better than music. It is a symphony of words! Just knocks my socks off. Doesn’t matter which I reach for, contemporary or classic, free form or haiku. I am certain to mix in  the works of our own Colorado Authors’ League colleagues, like Chris Ransick or Carol Grever. Poetry seems to invigorate language inside my head, and pumps energy into my hours at the desk.


Maintaining a life/work balance challenges me. So I set my timer to ring every two hours. A 15 minute break to walk around the block or jump on the treadmill gives my eyes a rest and enables me to make  exercise a part of my life – no excuses.

I have the best job in the world – and these are just a few ways I make sure squeeze every last drop of enjoyment from it daily. I don’t want it to become “work” ever!

PS:  There is nothing like racking up a great solitaire Scrabble score to brighten an otherwise dreary idea day, but I have sworn off Chicktionary and BookWorm!  Send me your favorite (procrastination enablers) … er, vocabulary enhancing games!

Maryjo Morgan’s pen wields a spotlight, extolling her subject’s abilities, creativity and business acumen. Active in Chambers of Commerce, Mj believes in TOMA (top of mind awareness) marketing. A full time writer with hundreds of published articles, she blazes through the work week at Mach 5 with her hair on fire as freelancer and partner in Weekends she and Fred pedal their tandem all over Northern Colorado bike trails.


Comments are closed.



The CAL Memorial Scholarship honors, as a group, CAL members who have passed away. To make a contribution in an amount of your choosing, please click here:


If you have news about upcoming events, award programs, resources, or other information relevant to the writing community that you'd like us to share, please send the information by email to the CAL Website Administrator.

Click for tips on sharing your news!