Writing as Ritual

“An act of will that changed my life from that of a frustrated artist, waiting to have a room of my own and an independent income before getting down to business, to that of a working writer: I decided to get up two hours before my usual time, to set my alarm for 5:00 A.M. … Since that first morning in 1978 when I rose in the dark to find myself in a room of my own –  with two hours belonging only to me ahead of me, two prime hours when my mind was still filtering my dreams – I have not made or accepted too many excuses for not writing. This apparently ordinary choice, to get up early and to work every day, forced me to come to terms with the discipline of art.”
– Judith Ortiz Cofer, ‘5.00 A.M.: Writing as Ritual’

8 thoughts on “Writing as Ritual

  1. Pascale

    Very admirable, and I do it sometime but can’t if I haven’t slept well, being an insomniac. The morning is my favourite writing time, yes, as Judith says, when the dreams are still being filtered and it’s quiet. Is that what you do Michelle? Thanks for the reminder of discipline and ritual, I prefer to think of it as ritual, love those.

  2. Julie

    Big applause from the peanut gallery!! What an awesome quote. I’ve seen too many good poets and writers slip into oblivion, because they make excuses and refuse to use self discipline. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Thanks, Michelle!

  3. Michelle Post author

    Hi Pascale and Julie, I find that I write mostly in the evenings and during weekends because I tend to have more time then, but I think if I had children or more family responsibilities I would make time in the quiet morning hours to write.

    I like to read over anything I’ve worked on the previous evening as soon as I wake up before my brain becomes cluttered with the plans and events of the day. For me, early morning is the best editing time.

    If you’re interested, Judith Ortiz Cofer’s essay, ‘5.00 A.M.: Writing as Ritual’ is collected in Sleeping with One Eye Open: Women Writers and the Art of Survival, edited by Marilyn Kallet and Judith Ortiz Cofer (University of Georgia Press, 1999).

  4. Regina

    I don’t get up that early to write but I usually always write in the morning and I write every day- every single day. And I find if I have trouble writing, I write about THAT! It helps me somehow, break out of it.
    This is a great quote- writing is a discipline, for sure!

  5. christine

    It’s nice to have a devoted writing time, no matter what, whether it’s morning or night. I tend to fritter away my time, even when I have it. I really admire the spirit of the quote, because the speaker is saying that she herself, her art, is worth the effort. Still, five o’clock! Sheesh, I’m such a bum, I could never do that…. .

  6. Susan Richardson

    I love writing in the early morning – love those close-to-dream-time hours – definitely find the hours between 6 and 8 a.m. are my most productive. But am not so disciplined that I stick to it every day. Usually end up dog walking instead and writing in my head as I go!

  7. Pascale

    Your quote reminded me to make the most of when I wake up “too” early so on my five am starts in past few days made the most of it and wrote a poem. Might well be thanks to this.

  8. Pingback: Daughter of the Ring of Fire » Blog Archive » Ritual and Discipline

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