Mary Oliver’s Advice For “Getting Ready” To Write

When it comes to starting a new habit, such as journaling every day, a big hurdle is getting started. So how do published writers find inspiration to sit down and create?  Mary Oliver, the well-known poet, gives advice in the “Getting Ready” chapter  of her book, “A Poetry Handbook.”

“Writing a poem…is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind.  They make appointments with each other, and keep them, and something begins to happen.  Or, they make appointments with each other but are casual and often fail to keep them: count on it, nothing happens.”

Heart, head, and hand.  Mary’s advice is to be consistent with when you write (hand).  But,  to get ready to write, create a love affair between your passion (heart) and your mind (head).  This advice parallels perfectly with the theme of Journal For Seekers,  think about your issues, feel your feelings, and take action by writing about your thoughts and emotions.

Six Tips For Getting Ready To Write

Translating Mary’s insights into tips for you to get ready to journal

  • Pick a Journal For Seekers to fit your current situation
  • Understand that your mind and your heart can team up to help you feel better
  • Set a consistent time to write, daily or weekly
  • Commit to keeping those appointments
  • Show up to your appointments and respond to the prompts for writing
  • Write in whatever form moves you, from poetry to scribbles that only you understand

Overcoming Fear

Another tip for getting ready to write is to let go of fears and write in your flow.  Your desire is to do something to feel better, not to do something perfectly.

Mary says it eloquently: “Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves.  None is timeless; each arrives in a historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes.  But the desire to make a poem, and the world’s willingness to receive it – indeed the world’s need of it – these never pass.”