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When I was a student in the UK, I had a student friend, an aspiring writer, who liked to start writing conversations with phrases like, “I mean, it’s a nightmare!” or “Who would be a writer?”

I always replied: Me. I would.

I didn’t add, though I thought it: And if I am able to write, able to have moments with the simple luxury of being absorbed in following and recording my own thoughts, I will be happy for it.

And I am happy for it.

We do have a choice about writing, about making art of any kind. There are some who would have us believe that art is a misery. It is not. It should not be a misery.

Certain elements around the making of art might be tricky – time, money, space, longing, audience. These things, I grant you, can cause some pain.

But the writing itself, the moment of being simply in the space of making words, of following ideas or characters or moments? Pleasure. Sometimes even bliss.

Joy is hard to capture on the page. It’s hard to recall, to notate. But I want you to try, today.

There are two parts to today’s exercise: firstly, a recollection of joy.

Take a moment. Think about a moment in the past when you were joyous. Got it? It doesn’t have to be the moment that you were the most joyous in the history of the world (or even in the history of your life). Jot it down. Now, take a moment to recall it more deeply – where were you? How did it feel? What surrounded you? What could you hear? Who was there with you? See if you can recall it in your body. Now write down the things that come to you – the sensations or odd words.

If you want to write the whole memory out as a full recollection or scene, then do. But you’ll get some of the magic just from the recollection.

The second part is to bring that joy into now. Try, today, to notice the moments – however tiny, however fleeting – of joy.

Often, joy is quiet. It is not the same as wild happiness, as bliss, as desire. Right now, as I write this for you, I am sitting in a café by a lovely beach. I have a nice coffee by my side. The breeze is blowing on my face. And so, I am joyous. It’s a small moment, but noticing it, noticing that it’s a moment of joy – this makes it more solid.

So this is the second task for you today: notice moments of joy. Attend to them. Breathe them in. You are allowed joy. You deserve it.

An now, your prompt for today …

Before the sun has risen…