Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Action!: Writing and more writing.

Thanks to the comments of a reader (Susan) last week, I thought about the kinds of writing I do. Sometimes at the end of the day, I feel like I didn't accomplish much because I didn't get to my screenplay, or to my blog, but actually I did a lot of writing. So for today's post, I thought I would share the kinds of writing I do... some of them almost daily.

  • Morning Pages.  That's what Julia Cameron calls them (The Right to Write and The Artist's Way). I write three pages in a spiral notebook, free hand, first thing in the morning, writing whatever pops into my head. Usually it's lame, trivial stuff. Sometimes I record a dream I was having upon waking. I don't re-read my entries for a long time, so when I do read them again, I see patterns (good and bad) in my way of thinking. I see topics repeated over and over that I didn't realize weighed so heavily on my mind... and sometimes I see the solution. And occasionally an epiphany shines through the dullness. I am now working on my 5th volume of Morning Pages, and in the meantime I've started to go back through previous volumes and make notes of the lessons and ideas I've gleaned.
  • Memoirs.  I am writing about my life. I read somewhere (I think in one of William Zinsser's books) that the best way to find your voice is to write about memories. So I started by writing random things and events from my childhood. Fun, fluffy things. Later, I felt guided (for personal reasons) to start with my earliest memories and work my way forward. This forces me to face the not so fun and not so fluffy. Sometimes I can only face a few paragraphs. I have no idea what I will do with it when I'm done, other than breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Journals.  It all began in a college English Composition class in 1975. The professor required us to keep a journal, and I've maintained that habit ever since, with only a few years lacking. This is where I write my thoughts, feelings, and events of my daily life. Far too often it is a chronicle of my activities, but still, because I have the habit of writing in my journal, I manage to capture important insights too. I have taught classes on journal writing, and preached, "Don't think you will remember to record important matters in your journal if you don't have the habit of writing about the small stuff too." If I have time to only do one kind of writing in a day, it's my journal that gets the slot.
  • Screenwriting.  This gets neglected far too often, for reasons that I've bemoaned many times on this blog. Life. Lack of time. Distractions. But it all boils down to Resistance, and it's only recently that I've learned how Resistance blocks the very thing I need to be doing, so I'm pouring my energy into that battle almost daily now.
  • Blogs.  I have another blog (My Healthy Eating Challenge), but it's at a standstill. Last year I focused on it, and neglected this one, and this year it's in reverse. Apparently I can only devote my attention to one blog at a time... yet I have several other blog ideas lurking in my brains. Go figure.

At less regular intervals, I do additional writing...

  • Reading Notebooks.  When I read, I like to write about what I'm learning, and record ideas and concepts I might want to refer back to.
  • Observation Notebook.  One habit I used to have, but lost (and need to regain) was to carry a notebook in my purse and use it to record observations while out and about. I wrote in the notebook while sitting in waiting rooms, or waiting for flights, or wherever... I described my surroundings and the people. I made note of ideas. I captured quotes. I recorded interesting information.... and conversations I overheard. I have several chubby notebooks filled with such writings, yet somehow my observation notebook got detoured into keeping grocery lists, things to do, and other such nonsense. Time to reign it back into its original purpose.
  • Poison Purging.  Okay, thankfully this type of writing I don't need daily. Once in a while I find myself full of angry, bitter, thoughts. When I recognize what's happening, I take a sheet of paper and write down all the negativity, emptying the poison onto paper. Then I immediately shred it. There's something about the act of destroying all that ugliness that helps rid me of it.
  • Humor Notebook.  When something makes me laugh hard, I write about it in my humor notebook so I won't forget. Reading those entries brightens my day. I love laughing!
  • Night Notes.  Sometimes when I need to solve a problem, I write it down in a notebook next to my bed before I go to sleep. I record a few thoughts on the subject and then pose it as a question. This allows my mind to work on a solution while I sleep... and often the answer turns up in my Morning Pages.
That's the overview of my writing. Over the next few weeks, I might share some samples from my notebooks and journals.


  1. WOW! Now I don't feel so bad for having 3 journals going at the same time! The reason I have 3 is that I don't always have them in the same place so I start a new one and then go back to the old one when I find it.

    I hope you do post up some samples.

    1. Three journals going at the same time! That's dedication. Fantastic.