The Write & Shine programme is led by writer & early riser Gemma Seltzer. Gemma set up Write & Shine in 2015, following a collaboration with a photographer that captured London during those magic early hours of the morning. Gemma is behind all kinds of literary projects and has enjoyed performance & writing commissions from organisations such as Age UK, BBC Radio 3, Tate Modern & the Venice Biennale.
What led you to launch Write & Shine?
Mornings are peak creativity time for me as a writer and I wanted to share my love of the first part of the day with others. Acknowledging how busy we all are, and how so many of us want more creativity in our lives, I decided to gather people to write before the working day begins. It’s beautiful to write together in the morning light, being awake and being creative as the sun rises around you.
The initial idea came in 2013 when I collaborated with a photographer to create a digital fiction project called 5am London, which captured the city in the early hours. We travelled to a new location in London once a month, including the Houses of Parliament and Hyde Park. It offered us a different side of the place we lived. We saw people on their way to work, or on their way home from a long night out. It was like walking around in a dream. Our minds were buzzing with ideas each time. Soon after the project ended, I started hosting morning writing workshops.
How does early morning writing help us throughout the day?
I found plenty of research that shows we’re more creative in the morning. Studies show that when we wake, we’re incredibly sensitive to the sights and sounds of our environment. For me, it’s the best time to think and imagine, with afternoons better for editing and critiquing. I use Julia Cameron’s technique of starting the day with ‘morning pages’. That is, filling three pages of my notebook by writing continuously as soon as I wake, when I’m still on the edge of sleep. It helps me let go of worries and ensure I can face the page with clarity. I also meditate in the morning, and the combination of the two practices is calming, and keeps me focused for the day ahead.
What advice do you have for individuals who don’t consider themselves writers?
Writing creatively is such a valuable tool for life. It’s available to everybody, anytime. Publishing work and making a living as a writer is tough, but I really believe that writing for pleasure is a simple way to boost wellbeing and learn to have faith in your own voice. If you’re new to writing, try just freewriting for ten minutes each morning. That is, write continuously, unconcerned with staying on topic or creating work that is ‘good,’ writing faster than you can think. This is a good warm up, and a great way to uncover new ideas. Find a way to begin: choose a line from a book or an article, make a list of your favourite foods, think of a childhood memory, and start the pen moving.
How do you fight writer’s block?
Finding a few good places to write is an important part of developing a good habit, I think. This might be the kitchen counter or a desk, the library or a café. Knowing where I like to write means I don’t need to spend time choosing where to go. You then free your mind from that concern. And timed exercises work well. I set myself ten minutes to write each morning. When the time is up, I might stop and take a break. But sometimes I realise I’ve written one or two phrases that are useful. At the very least, I have tricked myself into writing that day! The short story I’m writing is built up in this way, and it’s satisfying to see it grow each day.
What will Write & Shine be offering at MAKEMORE?
We’ll be inviting everyone to start their day with a burst of creativity! We’d love to see you at one of our 90 minute morning creative writing workshops on which we’ll wake you up with words & energise you for the day ahead. The workshops are open to everyone, whether you’re new to writing, have some experience or simply want to add more creativity into your life. You won’t be expected to share your work, which offers great freedom & encourages all kinds of unexpected ideas to emerge. We’ll provide pens, paper & a lovely brunch to power you through the session.
Credit: Rachel Cherry Photography
MAKEMORE will be sending out invites to these writing workshops over the next ten days to ticket holders. We are going to subsidise the cost of participating down to £5 per person to ensure this activity can go ahead and is accessible.
Website – write-and-shine.com
Instagram – instagram.com/writeandshine.ldn