Writing Just for Yourself

Not long ago I had a really bad day. You know they kind – where you look in the mirror and the hair is crap -you can’t find anything decent to wear because everything is either too snug or too lose – you’re late and you have to stop for gas – and yet another project shows up in your work email. Okay, not the literal “you” – it was actually the literal “me” – but you get the idea.  Everything I did was crap, crap, crap.

I finally gave myself a big virtual forehead slap when I realized that I was missing the one thing that could get me through a lousy day: I could write. Unfortunately, when I realized that I was driving down I 78 on my way to Pittsburgh. Being a fairly good driver I pulled into the Grantville rest stop. After visiting the ladies room and paying way too much for bottled water, I went back to my car, pulled out a notebook and wrote.

First I wrote about the things that were “bad” in my life and next to each one I wrote about what was “good” about those things. I didn’t want to drive to Pittsburgh. I didn’t want to work all week on a 280 page nursing policy and procedure book. I wanted to stay home and revise MY book. My good and bad list didn’t seem to be working to get me in a better mood.

As I was writing I noticed a scraggly, dirty man wandering around the picnic area. There had been a beat-up back pack and bedroll sitting on one of the benches; the back pack had a crude cardboard sign with the words “To CA” written in crayon.  I connected the man with the backpack and, knowing I didn’t want to do what I had to do, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have the freedom to come and go – no responsibilities?”

I abandoned the bad and good list and began to write a short essay about freedom versus security. I written almost two pages, knowing that this was not going to be for any publication and maybe not even on my blog  when I “heard” the gravelly voice of Janis Joplin singing, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to do…”

Well, I had plenty left to do. I put away the notebook and pencil and drove away from the rest stop. What had started out as writing a bad versus good list had turned into an essay which had turned into…

My feeling better about life.

Not all your writing is for an editor or agent. Some of it is just for you.

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