Now a days I find myself delving into the words of authors for inspiration and a way to re-frame my life when my motivation is waning. Here are some writing quotes that resonate with me.
Writing is an intensely personal activity. I can pen down my best thoughts when I’m alone. But when one is elevated into the stature of an author, you have to think about your books in terms of their business angle.
Like any good overnight success, Sanghi started writing at age 36. He published his first book more than 10 years ago while working full-time, after being rejected by 47 literary agents and publishers. After going through all of the rejection with his first book, he self-published his second book three years later. His third book a year later became a bestseller and his fourth and fifth books spanned the rest of that decade. Although he is most well-known for his retelling of Indian history through a fictional, mythological lens, he just published his first non-fiction book on my reading list, “13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck.”
For me, writing is intensely personal as well. It saddens me, though, that Sanghi feels the need to commercialize his work or find the best business angle. I’d like to romanticize writing, that authors detach from the outcome and pour themselves onto the page, and just allow the book to come together as a piece of themselves that we all get to enjoy.
I haven’t written about this before, but to date, I’ve kept a journal every year for the last nine years. Many people have. But what’s different is that I shred the most recent journal every year, shortly after my New Year’s rereading of it. It’s a peculiar habit, one that I’ve kept because my writings are intensely personal, and the thought of not being around to give my writings context scares me.
Maybe I should just try to give my writing more context and keep them?
Nah, too personal right now. Every year I consider it. Every year I’ve continued to shred them. There’s nothing earth shattering or exceptionally revealing in any of them, just my most private thoughts and interpretations poured onto the pages in many colors and a mix of handwriting and print pending my mood.
If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. Change your tools; it may free your thinking.
In writing, your pen is your prized tool. The sculptor has chisels, the painter has brushes, the writer has pens.
Yes, there are MANY pens to choose from in writers’ collections, myself included. Although I tend to write only for personal consumption, it is a pastime that requires a special tool to document what’s passing through my consciousness. You can scribble your thoughts with a ballpoint, but it doesn’t feel the same. Pending my mood, I have several different pens to use with different ink colors and most importantly, a different feel between each pen. Some days it’s a fine nib, many days it’s a medium or a broad one. I gravitate to the one that resonates with how I’m feeling most in that moment.
There’s something special about writing by hand, writing with a fountain pen, and there’s something special about writing into a book, to take a blank book and turn it into an actual book.
I tend to prefer keyboards for writing posts and reviews because it tends to force me to write with more structure, but I always use fountain pens for my to-do lists, journaling and private thoughts. I tried using an app on my phone that also linked to my PC as a journal and that lasted exactly two days. I just couldn’t pour out emotion and reflect as I write the same way on a keyboard as I can on paper with a fountain pen. It felt rigid. It was also too structured and I rethought every line and went back to edit.
No such luck with a fountain pen, just let it rip and keep writing. There’s nothing like a fountain pen and a blank page of beautiful paper!
I am a buyer of blank books. Kids find it interesting that I would buy a blank book. They say, “Twenty-six dollars for a blank book! Why would you pay that?” The reason I pay twenty-six dollars is to challenge myself to find something worth twenty-six dollars to put in there. All my journals are private, but if you ever got a hold of one of them, you wouldn’t have to look very far to discover it is worth more than twenty-six dollars.
Haldeman’s quote is similar to Rohn’s above and both resonate with me. They both challenge my journal shredding routine by making me explore my own psyche for what to put into your journals. My issue (if there is one,) is that I love to write without editing and just pen in the thoughts as quickly as they come. I can fill up the pages quickly, but there are recurring themes that continually pop up a few times a year. That used to annoy me when I would reread them. I’m a very future-oriented person, and trying to learn from the past and apply it to my future is part of the reason I journal.
I’ve been fascinated with the habits of successful people and I see that throughout my journal: trying, failing and trying again to perfect meditation, a great morning routine and countless other themes I pick up from the various people I read about. But in retrospect, isn’t that a good thing? I’m documenting my progress and I’m human. I will backtrack, I will not execute like the perfect automaton I sometimes think I could be and I do get to look back and learn from my own musings.
At the end of the day, if the guy is going to write the girl a letter, whether it’s chicken scratch or scribble or looks like a doctor’s note, if he takes the time to put pen to paper and not type something, there’s something so incredibly romantic and beautiful about that.
The truth in this statement is bewildering. It applies to so much more than romance, it applies to all of our communication and how much of it is electronic. If you’re reading this page on a website about fountain pens, you also understand the impact of a handwritten note.
With a handwritten note, you not only experience their thoughts, but a little sentiment and a little piece of their personality is on that page.
The words chosen. The tone. The grammar. (Or lack thereof).
It’s all a part of who they are and lends so much beauty to even the most mundane communication. I remember hearing about this website about handwritten grocery lists. Yes, you read that right. It’s an entire collection of more than 4,000 discarded grocery lists someone took the time to compile and post about.
More interesting, to most of us, is a compilation of secrets. You can send any secret you wish anonymously via snail mail on a postcard. The concept is fascinating. I spent about a half hour reading recent short secrets, many penned in their author’s own hand. Some tear-jerkers, some funny, all are important to the person who took the time to write it out by hand onto a postcard and drop it into the mail. Catharsis can be beautiful.
Someone wrote to me about receiving his deceased mother’s journals from a sister-in-law a few years after her death, having not known she had kept them her entire adult life. He told me how fascinating it was to see life through his mother’s eyes as an adult and how much he cherishes, even the mundane daily activities she documented. What he said to me that really struck a chord was how he could see when she was spiraling into a depressive episode purely through her penmanship.
He could see her neat, carefully formed lines turn into harsh scrawls across the page with the feed on her fountain pen choking to keep up. His personal account has made me rethink my shred fest and, at the very least, pen my son a letter directly from me for him to read after my death. Just think of how much that would mean to you if you’ve lost a parent? Your pens are worth far more than their face value.
We all unconsciously form opinions about people based on their writing. Maybe not their handwriting, since that’s a closely guarded secret for most people. But, while reading what you just read, you formed an opinion of me and my thought process. You unconsciously formed an opinion of why I chose those particular quotes, why they resonated with me and some with you. It’s all part of our humanity and how we relate to one another.
By being more aware of what you’re reading into others’ writing and what is meaningful to you, you’ll become a more thoughtful and expressive writer. Whether for publication, or your private journals bound for a yearly shred fest.