Don't just live in the world

Words on a page

September 11th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal

I have a bullet journal that is not as grand as those kinds of bullet journal you see on Pinterest. It houses lists and calendars. I try and fail to keep track of things, like how many books I read each month. The one thing I have been consistently using is my task list.

This is very similar to something that I used to good effect back in my undergrad days, planning for a wedding and working two jobs. I had a sheet for every day, with all the tasks I wanted to get done, and each task had its own little check box.

I love checking things off a list, don’t you?

Things on my list these days include flossing my teeth, taking my meds, getting some exercise. And one thing that I added for September – writing 500 words every day.

Every great writer, it seems, gives hopeful writers that same advice – write every day for a set period of time, a set number of pages. Write first thing in the morning. Exercise your writing muscles. Now, I don’t write first thing in the morning because I tend to sleep until my daughter wakes me up, and then I have to get dressed and get her on the bus and by the time I get back I boot up my computer and get to work – like, work I get paid for, not writing work. Although I do get the opportunity to write at work, which is lovely.

But the writing we’re talking about – the morning pages – that’s writing from your imagination, letting your pen flow. Not trying to use the language of your audience to ensure they receive your message as intended.

There have been times in my life when I have managed to write every day. I’ve done NaNoWriMo four times now, I’ve done NaBloPoMo twice. In high school you’d be hard pressed to find me without a notebook full of thoughts (and hockey scores…)

But my mind is so occupied with so many other things these days, I find it hard to sit and create. I find that when what I’d love most is to write fiction the way I used to be able to write fiction, I tend towards stream of consciousness and self-analysis. Which is good for my mental state, but not great for my dream of writing the great Canadian novel.

Last week I bought myself some new pens and some notepad – white paper, lined, 8.5 x 11. I wondered if writing longhand would be just what I needed. I used to write entire short stories on legal pads – and then had to type them up to hand them in. I still have some of that writing, I think. My notebooks full of doodles, text and hockey scores now fill a file drawer in my office closet. I thumb through them sometimes, remembering that girl and her talent.

That talent, of course, was mine. It’s in there. People have told me so. I just need to write it out. Shake the brain up a bit. Just write until it flows, like it has before.

I will be doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I may do NaBloPoMo too, just to make sure I’m getting all my words in. Writing begets more writing. I have an idea – or an inkling of an idea. I have a character, I just need him to further introduce himself, and tell me where he intends to lead me.

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