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No. 7 How I'm Learning to Write

Something clever goes here :-)

About three month ago, I picked up Austin Kleon’s book Steal Like an Artist at my public library. I had never heard of him and was INSPIRED by what I read. Kleon’s work motivated me enough to explore a new way of journaling every day. This approach serves my playwriting, blog posts, and my memory. Using what I stole from Kleon who stole from David Sedaris and adding what I stole from Linda Barry this is what I do: I carry a mini pocket size Moleskine notebook with me and jot ideas and observations into it throughout the day. In the evening, I transfer those ideas into a 2019 Moleskine daily planner using Lynda Barry’s daily writing suggestion of seven REMEMBERED, seven SAW, seven HEARD, and (I’ve added) a few IDEAS. The next morning I pick three topics from the planner and with each of those topics I explore three additional new ideas to expand on in the future. Once a week I index my journal in a legal size ledger by page number, idea, and action to take.

“You might be scared to start. That’s natural. There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called “impostor syndrome.” The clinical definition is a “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing. Guess what: None of us do. Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Polish Here, Shine There

I started playing with this process in September and am giving myself all of 2019 to play with it and let it lead me. I get ideas for dialog, settings, themes, and characters. This kind of journaling refreshes my memory (something I will needs as I age) and improves my attention span. It also helps me develop my rather underutilized prose writing. I am a compulsive thinker and it is such a relief to have a daily practice of downloading my thoughts and impressions and then to have fun expanding and refining that brainwork. Even if I don’t feel like it, I do it every day not knowing where it will lead me.


Kleon, Austin (2001 - 2019).

Barry, Lynda aka “Auntie Skimpo” (2012, February 6) “4 Minute Diary.”

Marshall, Colin (2017 June 17) “David Sedaris Breaks Down His Writing Process”

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