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Stop scribbling in notebooks!

When I was younger I filled notebook after notebook after notebook with phrases and thoughts and ideas and -

Who knows. It’s not like I ever read them ever again. Years later I’d flick through them and struggle to read my writing - so fast I had to write, to keep up with my brilliant thoughts! Or I’d read a line, just a line because that was all I had written, and wonder what on earth I meant by this one solitary line which had clearly struck me as supremely profound at the time but with no context, many years later, meant absolutely nothing.

I’m remembering Bernard from Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. He carries a notebook with him always - just as he planned to do as a slightly younger man - so he can jot down any phrase he thinks will be important to him as a writer. Thanks to his notebook he’ll always be able to find the perfect line. Later, he admits to himself that he has been noting down all these lines in the hope, the expectation, of writing the one story in which they all belonged. (He’s much more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually siting down and discovering his talent falls short. I’ll leave that for another blog.)

There’s no reason to think any of our random words, lines, thoughts will ever turn into an actual story. All we’re doing is filling up notebooks. It may feel productive, but the only thing it produces is a lot of filled up notebooks.

Fill up all the beautiful notebooks you want with your thoughts, dreams and desires - but don’t stop there.

If you have something to say, say it. If you have a thought, an idea, write to down, schedule when you’ll go back and review it, and then tear it up and forget about it or work at it and turn it into the story you want to tell.