June 15, 2012

writing practice: every thought counts

When a thought comes to mind, any line or idea, write it down it at once! I have lost so many ideas and lines, despite swearing to myself that I would manage to remember them later, simply because I failed to write them down immediately. Every line I lose reminds me of this basic, necessary writing practice of writing it all down! If the line or idea is not great, you will know when you review your thoughts with a fresh perspective later - no harm done. If it is great, you will be so glad you held on to it tightly!

Whether in a tiny notebook you carry with you, or in a memo app on your phone, or scribbled on a napkin and stuffed into your purse- write it down! Perhaps the line is the beginning of something important, or perhaps it is the thought that stands in the way of the next thought, which might hold even more potential. This process of recording thoughts also reinforces my belief in myself as a writer, reminding me of my purpose and practice. Carrying some sort of notebook is the best way I have found to hold myself accountable to practice listening to my creative brain. It is also a way to validate the thoughts that pass through.
I try to pick up little tiny notepads when I come across them at stationery or gift shops or even stores like Target or Hallmark. The important thing is that they speak to me in some way, nurturing my sense of myself through style or affirmative words. These notebooks remind me of where I want my head to be, of the importance of keeping my writing at top of mind as much as possible. (Ryan does the same with voice memos on his iPhone or a handheld recorder, if it is nearby; his practice has definitely been an inspiration to me!) The notepad I carry with me in my purse right now is this one, which I found at the Huntington Library and Gardens gift shop in California (one of our very favorite places!).
You can see it is kind of battered - I take pride in that! It is worn because I carry it with me everywhere I go. And it means that I am using it, hopefully, which is exactly the goal. The messages on front and back, “Live in Hope” and “Hope Doubles Everything,” are thoughts that encourage me every single time I read them. And I originally picked the notebook out because of the pretty hot air balloon filled with forget-me-nots, a flower that reminds me of my close friends who I want to treasure forever. The binding at the top, which is pretty worn out by now, has the words “love” and "bliss" written in the clouds, which is another detail I absolutely love.  Sometimes I will choose a simple notebook, like the tiniest size of Moleskine journals, which are perfect for pockets or wallets as well as purses.  
Inside the book, I am loose with my expectations. I try to date everything I enter, because I think it is interesting to see when I return to ideas and pick them back up again or decide to use them for a writing project. But I do not worry about neatness, or even logic. I do not worry about where the thought will go later. Sometimes I enter just a brief description of an idea, like this one:
And sometimes it is a line that comes to me, a full run of connecting words, and I try to record them just as they come, without editing, whether or not they make sense. Like this one:
Many times, when I am sitting down to write and void of inspiration, one of these lines will help jumpstart a topic or idea for me! Or sometimes a line will be so persistent in my consciousness because I have given it the attention of writing it down, and this obsession will bring me back to the page all on its own. 

I hope that you are catching your thoughts somehow and writing them down! You can truly never know where they will lead.

1 comment:

  1. We're ahead of our time-- write more neatly.