The Zen of New Ideas
Iwrite full time. Ghostwriting, blog posts, comments, emails, tweets. You name it and my fingers might have made it happen. When I first started to write, I had no aspirations for a writing career. Weaving words was merely salve to sooth an aching heart, dulled by my daughter leaving the nest for Kindergarten.
I spent afternoons filling pages for a novel I was shocked to be writing. I wrote every day until four months had passed and I found myself with a finished book and quickly evolving identity.
Those days of discovery have passed, new exploration has taken their place and my love for the art of writing has moved from playful hobby to serious career. The days of verbal doodling have taken a necessary reprieve, but I know there is much I can do to keep the embers hot. Since my heart first began to beat with the blood of a writer, I have longed to bloom words into worlds. Conversation with my muse has never been difficult, it is the time I need to fully engage her when faced with the necessary jobs that see me writing SEO copy about auto insurance, lawnmowers and little league.
Though I have kept a journal intermittently throughout my life, it was only after suffering the loss of unbridled daily creativity when I knew I had to do something to satiate the desire to deposit my ideas. Now I am neither novice or veteran, but I’m quite sure there is no ritual better for a writer than daily pages. A few hundred syllables or a few hundred words, it is the routine that is necessary.
My schedule over the last six months has been haphazard at best; swollen with constant transition. I can’t pretend I’ve kept to my routine with religion, or written words in my journal without fail. I do solemnly swear however, that those times when I’ve ignored my daily pages are also those days when my writing starts to suffer. Even when my pages are filled with nothing but scribbles or rants and ramblings, they are a vessel to harbor the engagement in my mind.
Every river must eventually spill into a sea.
Daily Pages are an excellent avenue for the pent up emotions of a well worn life, those things that bog you down like an iron ball snaked around your ankles. If you maintain your daily drain, then those moments when it’s just you and the bright white of an empty page will be more likely to find you in the throws of a passionate affair with your muse, rather than the cold silence of a slowly dying love.
Methods do not matter. Everyone journals differently. I happen to use whatever is on hand. Sometimes it’s a ten cent notebook or the back of an envelope I transfer to the hard drive later. My favorite place to store my thoughts is in a little desktop app called MacJournal. This journal allows me to stash anything I want and in any format. This is golden for a writer, as we are all pack rats of thought. Whether I birth an idea for a post, a letter for my wife, an poem for my children, or the full outline for a future best seller, I can stuff the journal and feel a creator’s high knowing my muse has been fed and is lying in wait.
Sometimes paradox begets productivity. By emptying your mind into your pages, you are also refilling the well of ideas. Creativity is rarely born in the clutter of one’s mind, though film and legend might try to convince us othewise. Images, scents and sounds will coalesce to burn new ideas into your mind’s eye. Getting truly lost in your pages, even if it’s only for a moment, might be all you need to thicken your thoughts.
This is tired advice, but only because it has had to work so hard. To be your best writer, you must write. I cannot count the number of words I’ve written in the last year, but it’s somewhere well over a million. Some were born from a freelance job where I tried to turn bullet points to brilliance. Others came from deep inside me and are like portraits lining my hallway wall. The common denominator has been my pages, the daily record of who I was, who I am, and who I will someday be.
We can never know for sure where life has taken us, but it is an amazing thing to keep a record of where we’ve been before.