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I was having lunch with a non-writer friend when she asked “how’s your writing going?” Into my second week of CampNanoWriMo and struggling with my word-count goal, that’s how. “At this rate, it’ll take me six weeks to reach my goal,” I complained. She leaned in with “But it’s important to have fun, too, right?”
Fun? Fun writing? Does she think this is a hobby? She just doesn’t get it, I thought, and switched the subject.
Days later I was scrolling through Etsy for a one-of-a-kind gift and stumbled upon upcycleVINYL : vintage recycled record album jackets filled with 100% recycled paper, spiral bound. My old music gods and goddesses, transformed into a tool of my craft! Notebooks, for me, are where the bodies are buried. Some writers connect best with their keyboards (or smart phones), but notebooks—pen to page—is my best ‘way in’.
So on that day, I gifted myself three notebooks:
Joni Mitchell (Hejira, Joni’s road album; songs inspired by ‘the sweet loneliness of solitary travel’—if that’s not a metaphor for writing, what is? A great place to start.)
Sly Stone (who reminded me each morning that ‘everybody is a star’);
and Bette Midler (ah, the Summer of Bette; ‘cause ‘ya gotta have friends’).
Truth, at first I was anxious—I was used to writing on lined, 6x8” pages and these were unlined and 8 ½ x 11”. All those large, blank pages—could I fill them?
Page one of the Joni notebook: address the elephant in the room. Wow, no lines! A bit intimidated but will get over it… less traffic, no shoulder, lots of curves, great scenery…see Joni, patron saint—you’re already influencing me…. And a few pages later: So far, these wide-open pages make me feel ‘expansive’; unrushed. Like I have plenty of room to make all my mistakes, and then some. No regrets, coyote.
“All you have to do is fill pages, spend pens,” I told myself. Just keep writing. Shitty first drafts, Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird) reminded me.
And fill them I did. Joni, Sly, Bette; then Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren (Utopia days), early Talking Heads. And when words wouldn’t come, I’d draw (I hesitate to call my scratchy little renderings, intelligible only to me, ‘drawings’) because I had that large, blank page, that desert of a canvas and license to do anything with it.
Writing on a larger blank page tapped me into a different flow; personalizing my notebooks with upcycled album art makes coming to work a joy—a simple change in my process that helped me increase my daily pages.
So this summer, it’s Carly Simon (No Secrets), ‘cause I haven’t got time for the pain. What makes you write more, and enjoy doing it? Feel free to share, below.