Why do I write? There are many reasons, but the best one I can think of is for my own peace of mind. Over the last month or so, I have finally started writing daily – just for myself. It grounds me in a way I can’t fully explain.
In addition to journaling daily, I also started using 750 words again. There are rumors that Margaret Atwood mentioned 750 words in her masterclass on creative writing. Personally, I love it. I joined 750 words approximately two years ago, and I am finally starting to use it daily. I use it to spill everything out onto the page, nothing more. I let my mind wander and go from topic to topic.
Getting the garbage out of the way helps. It doesn’t matter if I write in my traditional journal before or after I write my 750 words entry for the day. I am much more focused. When I sit down to write a blog post, I am not nearly as distracted by random thoughts.
Journaling, I only write approximately a page a day. It isn’t 750 words, but I usually have something to say that is focused on my inner life or events going on that grab my attention. I finally found a type and size of journal that works for me.
There is a difference writing on a laptop versus writing pen on paper. I do both daily, no matter what type of writing. For example, I may write a blog post during lunch or conference hour. I then type, edit, and then post it when I get home. Allowing myself some flexibility really helped. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t write in 750 words or my journal every day. I am beginning to feel “off” if don’t write at least something each day.
It comes down to finding what worked for me. I am in the middle of reading Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I love it – and I don’t want to rush it. So far, I tend to agree with her. There is a need to process whatever is on one’s mind before writing something for public consumption. It doesn’t have to be done that way, but it tends to make the entire process easier. Writing Down the Bones is a collection of essays on writing, and my favorite so far discusses the tools of the trade. She talks about how we get all too caught up in fancy journals (so guilty, just ask my ex!) and being afraid of writing garbage in something so beautiful. She makes the case for using cheap one-subject notebooks and just filling them.
This gave me the idea of decorating a binder and filling it with loose-leaf notebook paper. It works like a charm! If I completely screw up, I just start over. I have something with a good aesthetic, but I am not worried about permanently wrecking a notebook. For me, it is the best of all worlds, and this simple change made me much more productive. Natalie stresses this principal throughout Writing Down the Bones: Find what works for you. I couldn’t agree more. With my notebook, journal, laptop, Chromebook, and Android phone, I am set. That isn’t to mention Google Docs, Google Drive, and 750 words. I never have an excuse not to write or read. More on Writing Down the Bones to come.