Kim Stafford learned from his father, poet and conscientious objector William Stafford, the benefits of daily writing.
Kim, himself an accomplished poet and teacher, shared his father’s daily practice with me and other students at a Whidbey Writers Workshop residency one January. Since then, I’ve followed the practice, well… not every day, but it’s how I begin my writing time many days. The routine is simple enough:
- write the date (Kim calls this the “open sesame” move; once you jot the date on a page, you’ve accomplished the most difficult part—you’ve begun)
- make notes from a recent experience, connection with friends, an account of a dream… nothing profound is allowed
- record an observation, a list of things you learned in the past week, a free-standing sentence, an idea, a question, a puzzle…in other words, writing of some provisional understanding of daily life
- write something like a poem… or notes toward a poem… or sets of lines that never become a poem.
As the year draws to an end, I’ve been reviewing my writing in poetic lines. Most qualifies as those “sets of lines that never become a poem.” That doesn’t discourage me; Kim says only about a quarter of his father’s notes actually turned into poems.
One entry did catch my attention, though. I wrote it a year ago during my Quaker meeting’s annual Silent Day, and when I re-read it during this year’s day of silence on December 21, the reflection was all-too familiar.
One Day More
in just one day,
I can make up
for all the days
I haven’t centered,
haven’t let go,
haven’t stripped away
all that isn’t essential.
Yet, this one day
is a start,
is one day more
Whatever your practice is, I hope it supports you to be present to all that is essential.