A new notebook. That’s what it took for me to take a piece from a daily writing session to a published piece.
Most writers (no official data study, just the majority of writers I have come across in the past ten years) have a pen and/or paper addiction. We love beautiful journals with quality paper and smooth-writing pens.
Yet, most of us feel we need to save those journals for something important. We have no clue what that important something is, we just know we can’t use it for every day writing drivel.
So it was when my husband gifted me a box of journals for my birthday. We won’t go into my childish behavior of grabbing the box and squirelling away into a corner to ooh and ahh over every one. Some of the journals were nice, some were totally awesome.
I used the nice ones first. Then I needed a new journal, which meant I would have to go to the store and buy one, or (gasp!) use one of the totally awesome journals.
I was in full recluse mode so the idea of going to the store went out the window. There was a small moment where I considered not writing at all that day, but dog-gone-it, I was on a roll and didn’t want to break it. I pulled out the totally awesome journal. Pain pierced my gut, I was going to ruin this journal with drivel.
The Original Daily Write
The Problem with New Awesome Notebooks
It’s beautiful, it inspires me to write, but I can’t write just any note, wayward thought, filler fluff, or scribbles and scrawls.
I can write only deep, meaningful, gloriously, literary memories, stories, life-altering insights. And I must not make one mistake, or use anything but my best penmanship.
Or maybe the notebook will be used as a daily progress log of all my goals and my impressive organizational abilities. All the major accomplishments of each day. My perfection.
Does completing a load of laundry and staring at an article, lost how to fix it, count as major accomplishments?
Could I ever fill a notebook of this size with only glorious writing and impactful thoughts? How long would that take, a year or two or a life-time? What if I couldn’t fill it even in a life-time?
So I buy the notebooks, journals, planners that bring me joy and stare at them, waiting for inspiration so powerful that it’s worthy to grace the pages.
What overcomes me is guilt. I spent good money – I shouldn’t let it go to waste. And failure – Clearly, I have no thoughts worthy enough and no talent bubbling to the surface.
I pull out the cheap composition notebooks bought during back-to-school sales. I begin to scrawl all the mundane tasks running through my brain: eat breakfast, shower, oh good grief – clean the shower, write about nothing. Truly, nothing. I have nothing to say, but I need to finish this page, what thoughts do I have? Nothing. I have nothing, nada, zilch, zip, zero.
And then I reach for the notebook and I scratch, scribble, and scrawl about nothing. Yet, I feel better. I feel joy. I feel like a writer whose nothing is worth something.
Because all the nothings, nadas, and zips clear the gutters, frees the fresh water that gives life to my braincells. Ideas come forth as to-dos: eat, shower, clean which becomes an article about us doing something – work, giving, passions – no, giving, we are happiest when we do something. And we are happy when we encourage others, helping others to see the beauty within themselves, the strength they possess to stand and grow a better life.
Sometimes our help isn’t that grand, but it’s meaningful to a few; a part-time job that helps the family finances, a hobby that makes us happier which gives our family a happier person, a more fulfilled, caring person.
The mundane lists create an article that shows repetitive self-focus crushes our souls. We are here to teach, grow, learn.
And when I get off track and ramble and strikeout mistakes, cram in forgotten words, I am joyful. The notebooks are where we work ideas that become articles, stories, foundations of something bigger. For all the ideas that cross these pages, maybe one-percent are viable writing ideas. But that one-percent can’t shine without first having been unburied, dug out, dusted off, mulled over, stared at, and, finally, polished.
The other 98%…the drivel, shows the excavation process. And that process is recorded in the new notebook because we learn. And some days we read through the old notes, lists, etc., and realize a little nugget went undiscovered.
I will no longer fret about the kind of words that fill my nice notebooks, I will use them for great ideas and the regurgitated, boring pieces as well. And I will use them because of the joy which makes even those not-so-stellar thoughts appear awesome.
The Published Piece
The published piece can be found at the WOW-WomenOnWriting blog The Muffin.
The final piece is shorter and more succinct without all the rambling.
The After Effect
I did fill the pages of that notebook, most of the writings were drivel and the first writing was the best. However, some of the drivel yielded ideas to ponder and twist and toy with until they become something useable.
And I’m no longer waiting for something important to say to use my best journals. I use my good journals, and enjoy the rush of writing in something so glorious that makes the whole experience more joyful.