Reflecting on her writing process, novelist Nicola Barker in The Guardian, spoke about her love for journals:
“Each novel has its own specially designed and decorated notebook. These are sacred objects to me. They will be full of letters and tickets and articles from magazines. Prayer cards. Stickers. The covers are usually ornate and preserved with sticky-back plastic. I love marker pens – circling things with them, using them for emphasis. When I feel defeated I return to the notebook and it always reassures me. There will often be ideas there that I have completely forgotten about.”
What are the tools which will please you? A beautiful pen (or simply a pen with a perfect ballpoint)? I use a Lammy pen – one with a gold case and a pale ink, and the other with an orange case, which was a gift from the Byron Bay Writers Festival. I love it – love them both – and so when I pick them up I get a surge of pleasure and expectation. Allow yourself this small luxury of choosing a tool which pleases you.
Other tools which might please you might be tech tools – headphones or earbuds, white noise tracks or special word processing tools (I use one called Ommwriter which gets me into a bit of a trance state) and – here’s an important one – a tool for locking the internet. My suggestion is Freedom for the Internet, an app which shuts the internet for you. (Yes, some people have internal discipline. Good for them. I have an app instead.)
And importantly – your journal.
Shop for a new journal if you want to.
Or, if you’re like me and have a drawer full of previously purchased journals – don’t judge me! – choose a new one. Or take the journal you have in progress and add some bling. Purposeful bling: add images that relate to the ideas and images that are bubbling up for you. If you’re immersed in a new book idea, add pictures or words or stickers that relate to the project.
You might want to take a wander first and collect items that spark curiosity or pleasure or joy or that flutter of excitement that signals creative excitement. Does anything from nature leap out at you? A leaf? A feather?
Gather marker pens and colours. Create a cover which speaks to you and invites you to enter deeply into immersion.
Mark that first page (if it is as yet unmarked) with a description of what you want from your immersion.
Try to think of the ‘Am, do, have’ model when you think of yourself six weeks in the future.
I am free with my writing and confident to try. I am unstuck. I am excited to discover what’s next in my novel. I am ready to approach publishers….
I write every day. I wake early and start my prompts. I stick to my daily target. I rest and nourish myself.
I have a journal full of writing! I have five thousand words of a new chapter! I have begun a memoir! I have an edited draft…
Write the future you into the journal.
Colour it. Sticker it. Bling it up. Give it as much detail as you want to give.
Did you have craft day at school? Those wet afternoons with glue and paper and stars? Even now, my mouth waters with the smell of Perkins Paste and the sight of gold shiny card. Get your journal and your colours and your bling and start personalising. This is craft day for your writerly soul. Pour some tea. Put on some jazz. Get pasting.
And now, today’s prompt….
The morning after the rain