1. Only Write/Writing Abundance: Just Begin

This is the first post of a projected very long series and future info product whose name is still under consideration (hence the dual titles above).  For background on what's going on, read my post from yesterday. You might also want to read about the Writing Abundance system that this series is going to cover in depth.  You can do that here.  All of the posts will be readily available in the sidebar to the right, at least until I introduce it as an info product.  And now, with all that being said, let's get going:

Starting With ToolsFountain_pencil_writing_238392_l

To begin, we start with tools.  Now, here's the deal: the best thing about writing is that all you really need is paper and pen.  The worst thing about being a writer is that all you need is paper and pen.

Why do I say that?  Because sometimes I long for a profession that has more tools to it.  Think of all the great equipment painters get to play around with.  Or architects.  Or construction workers.  Sometimes I think that if writing required more tools, it would make it easier.  Then if the words didn't come, we could blame it on a rusty saw instead of an addled brain.

Alas, such is not the case.  All we really need is paper and pen.  Or pencil.  Yes a computer is pretty good, too, obviously, but its not a technical requirement.  And for me, when I'm flailing in my writing, I return to the basics of paper and pen.  Which is why I choose my few tools carefully, and you should, too.

I have a thing for pens, for starters.  Have to have just the right one, the one that feels right, or the words won't flow.  The pen that feels right varies from day to day, too.  The one that is perfect on Sunday may not work for me at all by the next Friday.  But most of the time I go on pen kicks.  I've been on a fountain pen kick for quite awhile now.  But sometimes I find a pen at the grocery store I like and use that until I get bored with it. The point is to find a pen or pens you love and buy them by the bushel because you'll need them.  Pens have an annoying habit of running out of ink.  They also disappear.  I'm convinced that somewhere there is an alternative universe built entirely from lost pens, the stray socks that the dryer eats, and all the Legos my son lost when he was a little boy.

Notebook_agenda_schedule_260757_l And then, of course, there is paper.  Ah, journals.  Just when I think I'm totally in love with Moleskines and will never, ever, ever use anything else, some lovely flowery thing presents itself to me at an office supply store and I buy six of those.  And then there are legal pads.  And notebook paper.  I love it all.  But what I choose to write on at any given moment has to be right for the project I'm starting.  (I'm really not quite as neurotic as all this sounds.)  Sometimes I want to keep all my notes and ideas together in a journal and sometimes I want the space a legal pad provides.

All this is by way of saying that the few tools we get are important. So treasure them.  And choose them wisely.  Buy a journal and pen that you love.  Or if you adore writing with pencils, do it.  Get the pen that has the right heft in your hand so that you pick it up and just feel like writing.  Because now it is time to….

Just Begin

All you really have to do is pick up your pen and write.  Just that.  Nothing more.  It is that simple, and yet we make it incredibly hard.  I know this, because I make it hard all the time.  I think that I don't know what to write about, what I want to write about, or what I should write about.  Sometimes when I pick up my pen and journal, nothing comes.

And yet…

All you have to do is start from where you are now.  Stop.  Sit down.  Pick up your pen and paper.  Look around you.  And begin.

What do you see?  Write about it.

What do you really see?  Write about it.

What do you really, really see?  Look closely.  Look at an object as closely as if you were drawing it. Write about what is right in front of you.  All of it.  Every blessed thing you see–the stain on the floor and how it looks like Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon, the translucent dried leaf on the potted plant, the elegant mien of the woman in the black and white striped cardigan at the table next to you.  Or the way the sunlight strains through your studio window.

Geneen Roth talks about the state of being married to amazement, which is a line from a poem by Mary Oliver.  And that is what writing about what's in front of you will do.   Writing about the pattern of veins on that potted plant's leaves will have you gasping in awe at the beauty of this planet. Writing about what's in front of you will create amazement about every aspect of your life.  Washing your hands, you'll note the feel of the cool water and the sweet smell of the vanilla soap. Writing this way makes you begin to notice things.  And if you can begin to notice what's in front of you, you can begin next to put together a poem about it.  Or a short story.  Or it will lead to an idea for an article.  Maybe even a novel.

In this way, we write.  And all you have to do to get there is just begin.

On Thursday, we'll get into the first foundational practice that will turn you into a prolific and prosperous writer, connecting.  So stay tuned!


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5 Responses to 1. Only Write/Writing Abundance: Just Begin

  1. Charlotte Dixon 08/24/2010 at 07:36 #

    You can use my couch any time when you are writing like this. I love this, J.D. I love the analogy with Pollock, and I love the reminder that the reason we need tools is to find our voice. And the only way to find that voice is to begin with words on the page.

  2. J.D. 08/24/2010 at 06:34 #

    You bring up painting. They do have toys. I think of Jackson Pollock. He seem to have almost a disdain for his paint; dribbled it from gallon cans, slung it with big sloppy brushes. At first glance, his results are like gobbledygook. After I looked a while, I saw something. I don’t mean an image. There is no image. A feeling maybe. Whatever it is, it is uniquely Pollock. He is not the first artist to have a way of seeing, to have a painter’s “eye.” The realist certainly have an eye. Without a doubt, there is skill to the craft, but at the soul of it, I think, there has to be an ability to see things that no one else sees.

    Yes, I need a pen, a keyboard. I need paper that is just so. I cruise the store at the library and used book stores, searching for an old, thick, perfect thesaurus. My comfort tools. I want to feel like a cat who has found the perfect spot on the window sill. I need all that because I want to find my VOICE. I know that words and grammar and punctuation are all things I must have. I also know that if I can find my voice, I can just fling it, sling it at the page–like Pollock. I have to rely some on that. I don’t have the skill to “craft” fiction. I have to come up with a funny way of seeing, then maybe someone will read it.

    Thanks for letting me use your couch. And thanks for listening.

  3. Ledger 08/24/2010 at 17:10 #

    catchy title….

  4. Charlotte Dixon 08/24/2010 at 17:31 #

    Hey, come on, I admitted I was still working on it. I need your great mind to come up with something.

  5. Ledger 08/25/2010 at 03:34 #

    Be glad that you don’t have this hollow echo between your ears and remember to be thankful for it, for even as the bus runs us over, we find that we have a chance to better view the workmanship of the street paver and red lights cause the ambulance driver no stress at all.

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