It’s New Year’s Day 2016.
I’m sitting on the couch thinking, “I should write a New Year’s blog.”
Last year about this time, I wrote a blog called Blah-Grrr, which was less than inspiring, but it captured my mood at the time.
This year, I want to write something BETTER, more MOTIVATIONAL, but I’m stuck.
Hello Writer’s Block.
(The inability to tap into the writerly part of your brain where thoughts turn into words and sentences.)
Part of the reason for this mental block is that I’ve set myself up with the idea that I should write something INSPIRING or MOTIVATIONAL.
Writing expectations can be lethal. They choke creativity.
No idea is good enough. No thought cogent or powerful enough.
And no good sentences can flow from that kind of clogged up mental mess.
Not only do I have crippling blogging block, I seem to have unintentionally infected my family with it.
For Christmas I gave everyone in my family five-year journals.
One of our Church missionaries introduced me to them.
She called hers her “most prized possession.”
Her dad gave one to all of his family for Christmas a few years ago and she’s written in it faithfully since.
“It’s awesome to look back and see where I was and what I was doing on the same day in previous years,” she said.
I’m a writer, a journal keeper, and big believer in creating personal histories. So, this sounded like a great gift idea.
Side note: A friend in college once said to me, “What is it with writers? They don’t think things are real unless they write them down.”
Ah, yeah…because they’re not.
Last night, Doug started a group text reminding everyone to start our new journals on New Year’s Day.
My sister, Sallie, said, “I can’t wait to start my new journal. I have to do something more exciting tomorrow than taking down the Christmas tree though. I don’t want to judge myself for the next five years for having a boring New Year’s Day.”
Annie said, “I know! I feel pressured to do exciting things!”
Then, Sallie, who drives a red convertible VW, said, “I’ll pick you up, Annie, and we’ll drive around the lake with the top down and then hike Y Mountain at midnight so that we’ll have something fun to write about.”
“Too bad we’re in North Carolina,” Annie replied with a sad face emoticon.
Sara texted, “I was thinking of having a focus — like writing about a funny thing that happened or the best part of my day or tender mercies.”
Having a focus sounded like a good idea to me too — a kind of writing prompt.
“I’m just going to write about the weather,” Doug said.
“Good idea, Dad,” Sara wrote, “Or you could just copy your daily horoscope into your journal.”
Today Sallie texted me to see if I’d done anything exciting to write about.
“I walked on the beach, watched an episode of Oprah’s Belief series and then called a friend who just announced she and her husband are going to Brazil for a Church mission. Is that interesting enough? Or maybe something amazing is yet to happen.”
“We have faith,” she responded.
Yes, if faith means believing our lives on New Year’s Day 2016 literally will be ones for the books, then we have faith.
That’s a lot of faith.
No wonder I can’t write a blog.
I can’t even think about that tiny little paragraph I need to write at the end of the day, let alone write a 500-word blog.
How can we live each day for five years worried about whether our lives are interesting enough to write about?
Well, see, that’s the thing. We can’t. So we don’t think about it so much. We just do it.
We just pick up a pen, or put our fingers on the keyboard, and write.
Start with a word and go.
How’s that for MOTIVATIONAL?
I sometimes don’t know what to write, but I try to write anyway.
Sometimes it’s just nonsensical junk that ends up on the page, and sometimes it’s something that’s surprisingly good.
But writing well isn’t even the point.
The point is expressing ourselves, and what makes it fun is that it’s all stuff that comes from inside of us, stuff that defines us and our ordinary lives.
And that can be wonderfully rewarding.
(And you know that if you don’t write it down, it’s not real, right?)
Get writing people. Make that your 2016 New Year’s resolution.
Capture your life on the pages of a notebook or on a blog or in a daunting five-year journal.
Your life is probably a lot more interesting than you think.
Let me end with this great little nugget from a writer named Victoria Erickson.
“Why write? Why should we all write? This is what I recommend…pick a word and see where that word takes you. Because you store everything in your body: the gorgeous, the ugly, the painful, the ecstatic. It’s all there locked away in your cells where memory, tension and confusion remain day after day, waiting to be set free. You don’t have to show it to an audience or your spouse or your children or even yourself again. But when it’s written down as a list, as a paragraph or poem or story, you can go to bed with greater understanding of yourself, of the world, or even of both yourself in this world. And at the very least, you know all those things are out of your body. Writing is essentially becoming free. It all begins with a word.
I couldn’t have said it any better. Thanks Victoria.
Now, get writing.
Figure out a way to capture 2016 in writing.
It’s only going to be real if you write about it …