I am not a professional writer and I do not pretend to be one. Writing is something I do for fun. Writing feels natural to me. I enjoy the process of corralling a mishmash of my thoughts and refining them into a cohesive flow of words that other people may or may not read.
But, just because I do it for fun, that doesn’t mean I don’t take writing seriously. I make an effort to improve my skills whenever I can.
I also love reading.
I am currently in the middle of, and switching between, three different books. One is a mystery set in the 1930s, because that is a genre I enjoy. One is a combination well-written biography and “how to” book by a writer about writing, because I wanted to learn. And one is a look at the history of women in local journalism, because I love anything to do with history, women in history, and local history. Not to mention the dozens of blogs I read on a regular basis. The sad thing is, it takes me ages to get through a book, because I only read a few pages a day, and I switch around. I say all the time, “I need to make more time for writing.” and “I need to make more time for reading.” In fact, I’m pretty sure I said the latter just yesterday.
I read in one of my books this weekend, how important it is to read every day if you want to write well. Today I read yet another blog post reminding how important it is to write every single day. It finally occurred to me that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to make the time to read and write. Every day. Whenever I want. I just need to make that choice.
So, I took the time to actually think about it. I prop up my book or my nook when I eat out at a restaurant. Why don’t I do that at home? At home, I plop down in front of the tv while I eat. As much as I love Pawn Stars, I’ve seen every episode more than once. Do I need to see them a third time?
As soon as I get home from work is the perfect time for me to read and write.
Tonight I came home, opened the screen door and the window in the kitchen, just to the right of my desk, propped open my book, sat down at my desk and read while I ate. I can watch The Voice later.
When I finished eating, I opened up my laptop and started writing this blog post. Too often I try to write in front of the tv. Although, I love my tv, it’s a huge distraction to writing. With everything in the house quiet, I hear the birds in the trees, people chatting while they take their evening walks, and traffic on the busy street outside my kitchen window. But the traffic soon becomes rhythmic and soothing. And the birds are fascinating. So many unique sounds.
Both the book and the blog stressed the importance of writing every day. One said to set a goal and write that amount no matter what. The other said it doesn’t matter how much or how little you write, just do it each day so it becomes a habit.
This does not mean I will publish a blog post every day. (It takes way longer for me to put one of these things together than you probably think.) But, it did remind me that I should write something every day. And I do most days. If it’s not a blog post, then it’s a lengthy email, or something just for myself. The days I do not write at all, I notice it. Something feels off.
So, I am choosing to make the effort. To read and to write. Every day.
The last thing I want to write about tonight is my wall.
Hold on to your hats, folks. I’m throwing a revelation at you: I plan too much. I analyze too much. I try to make everything too perfect. I’ll wait a moment for those of you who have known me for any length of time in real life to cease laughing at the thought of this being a revelation.
The idea of what to do with the wall above my newly placed kitchen desk, as I like to call it, has gone through so many incarnations it’s ridiculous. I’ve planned, I’ve analyzed, I’ve changed my mind. I want to put quotes and things that inspire me up on the wall above the space where I plan to spend my time writing. But how to display them? I’ve come up with plan upon plan, each involving so much work, I give up before I start. Tonight I had a breakthrough.
A few weeks ago a friend wrote something on her blog that I found particularly inspirational and pertinent to me right now. I commented that I wrote it down and put it on my mirror. She probably thought I was kidding, but I wasn’t. I read something that inspired me. I picked up a pen and a post-it note and wrote the words down. I stuck it to my mirror and I have read those words as I put my makeup on every morning since that day.
Why can’t my “wall of inspiration” be that simple? Shouldn’t it be? I didn’t take weeks planning how I was going to display the quote from my friend’s blog. I didn’t buy fancy paper. I didn’t worry about my handwriting. I read it. I liked it. I wrote it down. I put it up. The paper hasn’t fallen down. I don’t look at it and wonder if I should have hung it a little higher or used a different color ink. I focus on the words and the idea, which was the reason I wanted to see it every day in the first place.
STOP THINKING. START DOING.
My happiness board still sits on my desk and I love having it in front of me as I read or write.
I have had a framed picture of a pink typewriter for months. I had yet to put it up because I wasn’t sure how high I wanted to hang it. That was stupid. There was already a nail IN THE WALL from a picture that hung there previously. So, guess what crazy thing I did tonight? I hung the existing framed picture ON the existing nail in the wall! Looks good to me! THAT was a grueling 30 seconds of work.
Now, about the quotes and pictures I want to put on the wall.
I was quite the artist from kindergarten through high school. I was always putting my artwork up on my bedroom walls. I used good old fashioned matte finish Scotch tape and for years the artwork and the walls survived just fine. I’m sure I can go all over the web and find articles explaining all the ways this is a bad idea. Ask me if I care. If the tape comes loose and the paper falls down. I’ll put it back up. If the tape screws up the wall. I’ll fix the wall.
I knew exactly what I wanted my first wall quote to be. My favorite from Mother Teresa. I grabbed a piece of graph paper and a pen. Wrote it down. And taped it up.
Here is my newly chosen reading and writing spot. Complete with blank wall, waiting to be filled with whatever strikes me at the moment.
The light isn’t that great for a picture, but I enjoy working in its slight dullness. I love the angle of the sun this time of night. Here is the view to my right at this very moment. The sun is setting and throwing a long shaft of light across the back lawn and the leaves on the trees are rustling loudly.
That is my cue to wrap this night of accomplishment up…and go watch The Voice.
I love the Mother Teresa quote so much, I decided to include the text below, since it’s hard to read in the picture.
People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
– Mother Teresa