“Say things to the world that are true.” – Pablo Casals
One month (and one day, actually) ago, I was inspired to walk into my office, crouch down to the bookshelf that holds the journals I have an inexplicable need to collect, pull one off the shelf, and shake the dust off. I guess it’s one of by those weird writer quirks–to collect notebooks–even though, personally, I stopped handwriting most things once I graduated high school and computers became the norm. I’ve always loved the romantic idea of curling up with a notebook and writing page after page of deep thoughts on life, but I convinced myself I didn’t have the time. I already spent so much of my day writing. I longed to be like Robert Pattinson’s character in the movie Remember Me, dragging a tattered notebook with me everywhere to record my every observation, but I was sure I didn’t see enough each day (being a stay-at-home mom) to fill even a page.
It was yet another movie that finally inspired me to take up the practice. I saw a preview for Stuck In Love quite a while ago but it took me a long time to finally watch it, even after it came out on Netflix, because I have so little time in my days to watch movies (I hear this is a common symptom of having two young kids). When I did watch, I was so inspired that I was picking out the most comfortable notebook to work in and carry around with me while the credits were still rolling. The movie is much more than a story about writers but being a writer myself, that’s the part that struck me the most, this family of writers led by a patriarch who encouraged his kids to become young artists by–yes, sometimes forcefully–pushing them toward their notebooks…inspiring them to live full lives and then put those experiences onto a blank page.
I want to be an artist, I realized about halfway through the movie. I don’t want to simply clock in each day, write my word count, and be done. I want writing to be as natural as breathing and my words to be seeped in contemplative thought so that they are true and lasting.
About two and a half years ago, I went on a trip to California with my childhood friend and found the pictured notebook in a gift shop. It was filled with inspirational quotes and was the perfect size to carry around in my purse. At the time, I was sure not a single word word ever grace its pages but I had to have it. And there on my shelf it sat for two and half years. But this morning I filled the final pages of this notebook and I have my next one waiting in the wings.
Over the last month, I have carried this notebook in my purse with me everywhere (unlike Robert Pattinson, my pockets aren’t that big–plus I kind of need my hands for the incessant milk requests). At first I didn’t know what to write about. I have a compulsive need for organization and even in this I wondered if I should stick to a theme, or have a schedule. But I decided this was the one thing in my life I didn’t want to regulate. I wanted to write whatever came to me and I wanted to be honest. Most of life’s interactions are varying degrees of polite withholding but I knew I could never be honest in my fiction if I couldn’t be honest here, in this book, that no one would ever read but me.
So I did. My very first entry was 8 1/2 pages long and I averaged that most days, sometimes on one topic, sometimes on several. I poured out my feelings about motherhood, and relationship issues, and hard times and good times with friends and family. I wrote about growing into myself. A lot of these pages are, of course, filled with my thoughts on being a writer and the writer I hope to become. It’s my life’s calling and what I’m most passionate about.
And an amazing thing happened. Suddenly someone who didn’t think she had that much to say, couldn’t say enough. I found myself craving the pen and paper. I wanted to commit all my feelings to ink and I found a level of honesty that has been hard for me up until now. I often have a hard time even being honest with myself. My inner peace grew and my anxiety–something I’ve struggled with my whole life–lessened drastically. I’m happier, I’m getting more practice writing, and I’m allowing myself the precious time to think like a writer on a daily basis so that hopefully, that depth of thought will translate to my fiction.
If journaling is something you’ve ever thought of doing–writer or not–I highly encourage you to do it. If you are a writer, I’m sure, like me, you’ve read the suggestion to journal a hundred times in craft books and blogs, and like me, are sure you don’t have the time. But I think if you make it a habit to carry a notebook with you, you’ll be surprised how often you find a few minutes to get some words on the page (for instance, in the same why I found time–by not checking Facebook instead 😉 ). Why not dust off that old journal or go to the store today to pick one out? Make no commitments–we already have way too many of those–just have it available. See what happens.
We are all blessed with this amazing consciousness that’s unique to each of us and so much of it is wasted by going through the daily motions and never taking the time to stop and appreciate it. Your thoughts and feelings are important. If you don’t believe me, go to eBay and buy a journal from someone who lived half a century ago and see how much those seemingly mundane details at the time reveal about a piece of our world’s history. We are all a part of this world’s history. There are so many ways to make it work for you. Write unbridled as I have done. Write to your kids. Share a journal and your thoughts with your best friend. Write a book of letters to the people in your life, even if they never see them.
Write for yourself, to find focus and balance in your life–a space that’s just for you.
Journal pictured is part of the http://live-inspired.com collection.