I have dozens of journals, and only a few of them are full of words on every page. Most have twenty or so pages filled with angry or anxious ink that spans from one edge of the page to the other. Fevered scrawls about stories or relationships. Struggles with darkness. The pure and simple beauty that life can be.
And then nothing but a sea of blank. Since I date the journals, the pages remain empty.
When I was at Powell’s a couple weeks ago I bought a stack of my favorite journals—Molskine lined cahier notebooks. I like them for their non-pretentious aesthetic, their cardboard covers, the way they stay open to the right page, the way I can carry thoughts from edge of page to gutter. They’re nondescript, and so there is no pressure to write any more than words. Purely and organically.
Yesterday I was blocked. It wasn’t that words wouldn’t come; it was that I had nothing worth penning. So I looked up prompts and found one writer’s suggestion to make a list of things I’d never do. Rather than trying to crank out a 50,000 word novel or blog every day, I’m filling a notebook with nevers. This is my November project.
Tonight, I wrote only this:
You will never know life without love; your friends are a testament to who and how you are. And though they are few, their love, their ability to see you is the most powerful force there is. It is what keeps you alive.
Writing takes me to a beautiful place. It can be trance-inducing, especially when I am working on a project that requires a lot of time or a maximum word count. Tonight all I needed was to write a simple truth. The rest of the page remains empty, and I plan on leaving it that way.