Anne Lamott says you should always carry a pen with you. She says it’s the secret to life for a writer.
She says, “If you don’t carry a pen, then God is going to give me the good ideas that would have gone to you. He may say, ‘I was going to give her that insight, but she has no pen. I’ll give this idea to that cute Anne Lamott. She has a pen.'”
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Annie Dillard says “a schedule is a net for catching days.” This metaphor is beautifully poetic to me. She wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”
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Lauren Graham is my imaginary best friend, and so of course I read her debut novel, Someday, Someday Maybe. In the book, the heroine keeps a day planner: a classic file-o-fax of the mid-1990s. She keeps track of what she eats, her daily water intake, her appointments and auditions, what movies she saw, and the many daily doodles of her life. She keeps track of where has been and where is was going.
She has set a personal deadline for her success as an actor in New York City. If she can’t be the real deal in time for her arbitrary deadline, then she will abandon the dream and embrace her real life. As the date draws closer, she’s painfully aware of what she hasn’t done.
“All I have to show is a calendar full of doodles, and lists of what I ate that day, movies I saw… my deadline is here, and it isn’t even a tough call to know whether or not I achieved my goal.”
But her friend Dan, whom you will love if you read the book (and I do think you should read the book so you can love him), gives her this beautiful insight that had me drawing stars and quotes and brackets in the margins.
He tells her, “Maybe you haven’t accomplished what you want yet. But that book shows how you’ve kept filling up the pages. If you do anything enough, if keep putting effort in, eventually something will happen, with or without you. You don’t have to have faith when you start out. You just have to practice as if you have it. Quantity becomes quality by itself. You don’t even have to believe in yourself. Just keep at it. Keep filling up the pages. Something is bound to happen.”
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Eugene Peterson says discipleship is long obedience in the same direction.
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And suddenly I realized that my morning routine has meaning.
This daily start of making my lists over a cup of coffee,
this insane love I have for bullet journaling,
this joy that I find in recording my lists and planning my days,
this need I have of keeping my paper close and my pens closer,
It’s all quite a bit more than doodles and scribbles and dots.
There’s a psychology to it. There’s a reason. One might even call it a life philosophy.
I’m filling up the pages.
I’m making a net to catch my days.
And I’m showing all the ideas that I’m here,
I showed up today, good and ready to write them all down.