Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Right Tools

I’m glad to be working with the right tools.  This week my computer reformatted and I lost MS Word.  I went to the computer store and the customer representative recommended a writing program for me.  He said, “It blows MS Word out of the water!”
            It didn’t.
            The program was clumsy and didn’t allow me to do the things I was used to doing.  So after a lot of time on the phone I found what I needed and I’m feeling enthusiastic about my writing again.
            Would I have continued writing if I hadn’t been able to get MS Word?  Yes and no.  Yes, I would have continued writing because that’s what I like to and need to do.  And, no, I wouldn’t have continued writing with that program.  It was too frustrating, distracting, and discouraging.  I would have done what I did – find the right program.  As I said, the tools are important.
Pens and journals are also important to me.  I’ve been carrying pens in my pocket since I was 12 years old.  When I was a kid (and an adult), many of those pens ended up in the washing machine and ruining my clothes.  Still, I found myself almost always having a pen with me.  I felt naked without one.  Over the years I found myself favoring certain brands and colors.  I like medium point.  I don’t like it when the ink smears.  I don’t mind spending money to get good pens.  On my kitchen table where I write every morning is a coffee cup full of pens, black and blue ink.  I alternate colors every day in my writing journal.  I don’t know why I do that, but it gives my journals a nice appearance, despite my nearly-illegible handwriting.
Journals are important too.  I’ll write in almost anything, but I like wider lines better.  I have a box full of journals that I’ve been writing in since 1977.  I also have a box of journals that I’ve been writing in since the end of January.  Every morning I write three pages.  On weekends I write at night as well.  I write three to five pages every day.  Since I started this habit, I’ve written, by hand, over 800 pages.  I plan to continue this practice for the rest of my life.
My journal writing is nothing spectacular.  Sometimes I write prayers.  Other times I write my plans for the day.  I might write about what happened the day before.  Or I might write about feelings I’m having at the moment.  And sometimes I write something that will become a blog.  As I said, it’s nothing spectacular.  I keep my writing to myself and I rarely share it with anyone.  This allows me to write whatever I want without offending anyone when my thoughts become negative or fearful.  The purpose of this exercise is to reach 10,000 hours, the number of hours Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers, one needs to be really good at something.
Besides a place of privacy and a place to sharpen my skills, journal writing can also be therapeutic and cathartic.  Many times I have gone into writing feeling discouraged and afraid and then left feeling peaceful and strong.  But this is only a benefit and it doesn’t always happen.  The point is simply to do it every day, as part of my Purpose whether or not I derive any benefits from it.  (But, yes, the benefits, when they occur, are nice.)

Those are my tools.  We all need our tools to do our work.  Though finances may be tight for those starting, I find it best to spend some money here.  It will make the job more enjoyable and allow you to concentrate on the actual work, rather than the additional details.  The right tools help me to Get Started and to Keep Going.