Stepping Stones Blog

A Left-brained Writer

Like most writers, I have an affinity for paper and pens.  I amass notebooks and journals as if they are fine collectibles, and I have tried nearly every writing instrument on the market.

I can spend hours in the stationery department, imagining the different ways in which I can use the various supplies:

  • sipping a coffee in a neighborhood cafe writing my observations of the people as they come and go
  • brainstorming a new story idea and creating fictional character sketches
  • capturing snippets of my own memory in short slice-of-life stories which might someday be shared with family members.

The list could go on and on, but suffice it say, when I get home with my newest purchase, I suddenly become paralyzed.  I open the drawer in which I keep these treasures, and realize that the department store dreams suddenly dissipate when I come face-to-face with the blank page.  The pristine condition of the new journal is too perfect to mar with my haphazard scribblings.  And the imaginative ideas suddenly seem boring.  I place the newest journal on top of the others and mournfully close the drawer.

I have this romantic Hemingway notion of what a “real” writer looks like:  moleskin book tucked under his arm, slowly walking along the sidewalk to the nearest cafe, closely observing all that he sees and hears in order to record it later.  Perfect prose finds it way to the pages on the first draft – and creative ideas flood his mind with each sip of coffee.  After a few hours, the notebook is closed and a deep sense of satisfaction fills his soul.  “Yes, this is what I am called to do.”

Told you it was romantic, and not to mention, completely unrealistic.

The truth of the matter is this: Writers Write.  Period.  Butt in chair – pen to paper – and write.  It almost seems too simple, which is probably why I make the selection of the journal such a monumental task.

But while I am learning to put romantic notions, unrealistic expectations and perfectionism aside… I am also learning to embrace my OCD tendencies. If I am going to pursue this writing life, I cannot ignore who I am:  an extreme left-brain organizer who strives to do it right the first time.  If I try to conform to the image of someone I am not… this does not free the creative juices – it freezes them.

Over the past two weeks I have read many books on writing – and I have done much soul searching.  I know I want to write; in fact, I would go as far as to say that I am called to write.  And I am determined to make this work.

Through much experimentation (and some frustration) … I think I have a found a writing practice that works for me, allowing me to embrace my love of organization while offering freedom to pursue the leading of the muse.

This practice combines the teaching of Natalie Goldberg (Wild Mind) and Lois Daniel (How To Write Your Own Life Story) and I plan to outline this new system in the next post… for those who may be interested.

But for now… I must go write in my journal because… that’s what writers do.







  1. I can totally relate to everything in this post! I also have journals upon journals and always feel like they’re way too precious to scribble my scattered thoughts in. Lately I’ve tried to come to terms with the fact that “perfection” In writing is subjective. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and I look forward to reading more from you 🙂

  2. I’ve never been able to write in journals for the same reasons as you. But unlike you, I dislike stationery stores, and it took buying only two cheap, Fred Meyer quality journals to come to the realization that journals are not for me. Oh, I tried to write in them, but then carefully excised the cruddy prose with an exact-o knife, then gave the journal to my 11 year old granddaughter who seemed to appreciate getting it.

  3. Reblogged this on Greendeath Writings.

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