Today marks the end of an era, the dramatic close to a period of my life, the loss of a beloved companion.
Today I finished my notebook.
This is a big deal because I, for years, struggled to finish things. I used to be what the world calls a 'quitter'. Though I would call it 'afraid-of-success-to-the-point-of-aggressive-self-annihilation'. Either way, I've been trying to grow out of this destructive behaviour pattern for a few years now and have discovered the joy of finishing things. That sense of fulfilment from actually getting to the end of something.
But what's all this got to do with filling a notebook?
I'm not sure if these two things are actually related or not but this is my website and I'll do what I want! (As long as I'm not hurting, insulting or exposing anybody other than myself.)
But I'm a writer - and I also have a stationery addiction.
If I am somewhere with amazing notebooks - I WILL BUY ONE! I've given myself pretty harsh restrictions in an effort to decrease the amount I buy too. Only Moleskine or Moleskine-sized notebooks. It might sound a bit snobby but I seriously don't care. I want them to look uniform on my bookshelf and that's that.
But even with that restriction - I can't be stopped.
So, with all these wonderful empty notebooks around - filling them becomes a pretty overwhelming process. And if you're at all like me - you know exactly what that feels like.
So here are my top tips for filling a notebook...
1. Don't be precious.
If you're always waiting for a beautiful, poetic sentence to put into your notebook I'm sorry but you're going to have A LOT of blank pages. Sometimes I start by just writing the words 'I'm writing in my notebook.' Just to get that fear of being perfect to disappear. Because there's nothing more stupid then writing in your notebook that you're writing in a notebook.
2. Vow to do it daily - and set a page limit
Set aside time in your day to write some pages. I follow (loosely) Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way guideline of writing 3 pages in my notebook every morning. Sometimes I go over that limit and sometimes I forget to write in it at all - but whenever I do - I NEVER write less than three pages. (Even if it's absolute rubbish and it takes me all day to get there.)
3. Use your best tools
The number one thing that writing in a notebook should be is a pleasure. It should be a wonderful event that fills you with joy and offers you a moment of escapism in this crazy world. I know it can be tempting to save your best tools for some kind of special occasion, but don't. Use your best pen or pencil and your best paper because your thoughts are always worth it.
4. When you're too tired to write - draw.
Sometimes it's difficult to come up with words. And sometimes writing ca be the biggest ball ache in the whole world. On days like that - draw something instead. It obviously doesn't have to be a masterpiece - it just has to fill up a couple of pages. Draw what you see in front of you. Or just scribble the same word over and over in different fonts and sizes. It'll be cathartic too. And it'll fill up those pages.
5. List something
Throughout my notebooks, I have list pages which I add to later. Listing things is something that I've always found fun but it can also be an excellent way to fill up a notebook. (or pad out a website...) I've got lists of what makes me happy, best tv shows of all time, creative seedlings (ideas), memories, thoughts, food, feelings. etc etc. If you can think of something to list - Do it!
6. Don't feel pressured to finish anything
One of the hurdles of writing in a notebook is when you're attempting to be creative. If you start writing a little story in your notebook - don't be afraid to abandon it halfway through. If the idea is still interesting the next day - you WILL come back to it. And if it isn't, well at least you still explored it a little in your notebook. Don't worry about leaving things unfinished and unpolished - the notebook is a tool for exploration*, thoughts, ponderings and worries - it's not supposed to house publishable stories. The notebook itself should be finished - but the stuff inside shouldn't be.
Okay folks - that's all I've got for today! Remember the best way to fight the fear of the blank page is to scribble on it!
Thanks for reading!