I love to write.

I have written in journals, in diaries, in Field Notes paper notebooks, in Moleskines, in sumptuous orange French Rhodia notebooks and on sketchpads. I have written two line diary entries and I have written three novels. I have written formal reports, essays and clinic notes. I am writing this blog post. I have done mind-mapping for a project on the large whiteboard in my home office, and I have written lecture outlines on old fashioned blackboards. 

The way I write changes constantly, though the content and themes of my writing, when you get right down to it, don’t vary that much. The fact that I look for the best text editor for me or the paper notebook that fits the hand just so or lies completely flat on the table or the pen that has just the right heft and balance are all parts of the writing process for me that are in constant flux. I may love the flow of a gel ink pen for a few months and then go back to the rough scratchiness of a needle-pointed Hi Tec C that, if not careful, cuts actual grooves in the paper under it. One month, a white-capped Mont Blanc may do it for me, and the next month a green Uniball Signo fits the bill. One year, I may take all my patient notes in a Rhodia web notebook, but come January first the Year of the Clipboard is ushered back in. A Mirado Black Warrior soft lead may find its way out of the cup on my desk and into my hand during those times that I want the maximum connecton between my brain and my hand and the paper under it. 

Why all this muss and fussiness? Why the constant change of paper and pen and pencil and room and board? Why not just pick out a box of clear plastic Bic pens at Staples, grab a yellow legal pad (I have been known to do just that on the front porch at the beach, many years ago) and be done with it?

For me, it’s about the process. It’s about the feel and the flow of the thoughts and the ideas that sometimes come so rapidly that I can’t keep up with them. It’s about having the least amount of friction between brain and publish. It’s about the pursuit of perfection on the page while at the same time arguing with oneself about whether that concept is even valid. 

It’s the fact that even though I try different media and inks and papers and keyboards and fonts and styles, the ideas almost write themselves. 

I show up every morning at the same time, in the same place. I set my coffee cup down after that first satisfying, life-giving, brain-jolting swig. I wait. My muse is always there. Sometimes she is loud and boisterous and excited and won’t stop talking until my fingers start flying, and not even then. Sometimes, she whispers so sweetly to me, so softly and earnestly and so physically close to my ear that I can feel the kiss of her warm breath on my skin. She rarely takes no for an answer. Oh, I’ve tried to ignore her. She is having none of that. She does not care if the hand is on the keyboard or the Mirado or the silver Tornado. 

She will allow me my fun, my change-up. 

Then, she will demand that I get down to business.

What will we do together? What ideas will float to the top?

Out of mental health, and sometimes out of madness, comes creativity. 

What will you create today?

12 thoughts on “Change-Up

  1. I really liked this one Greg. Not being a writer myself, I never realized there was so much involved. Also, I can feel your joy and excitement about writing. To you it’s fun! I also liked the ease and the flow in this one. Nice and smooth. Were you you of the guys that wrote those crazy stories in Mr Junkins’ eighth grade English class? I remember I loved to hear those stories, but I hated to write, even back then. Glad you are still at it!


  2. This cycle captures how I work as well, Greg. So many variables affect my medium of choice. And while I have largely gone digital, I find that certain tasks feel better on a bright pad with a wet pen. I have wanted to become a Moleskine user yet I find myself always coming back to the rock solid feel of a high quality block that sits flat and firm.

    My current pen-of-choice is the Uni Ball Signio 207 Bold. Although I frequently downshift to my short and stout Montblanc Boheme ballpoint with the broad refill.


  3. I’m cooking up a seafood fest for my husband’s birthday–Dungeness crab, Copper River salmon, mussels, and sea scallops. This is his annual request. He also requests no vegetables but I’m making collards anyway. Man does not live by protein alone. I may have to work bourbon into the meal somehow.


  4. Greg,
    I hate to admit that I have filing cabinet drawers full of unfinished short stories (written when submitting to children’s magazines), journals full of notes, ideas, the birth of ideas with several children’s books, devotional material ad nauseam, & probably material that I have forgotten! I am not one to have incomplete work around me…to begin chores & not complete them…i actually hate unfinished projects! But where writing is concerned, I seem to be the recipient of too many distractions, too little time & a self motivation that seems to go out the door when I least expect it! But when I sit down with rekindled motivation, I am as you described…the recipient of “ideas that sometimes come so rapidly that I can’t keep up with them.” I know the feeling. And I’ll be there once again, with a rekindled fire of motivation;)

    Your posts encourage that for me.




  5. Of course. We have a seafood serving tradition around here when it comes to out-of-town guests, except my mother-in-law and her husband, who don’t like fish. Can you imagine? They actually went salmon fishing in Alaska one summer and didn’t eat any of it! I got a year’s worth of salmon from them, though. It was vacuum packed and quick frozen right off the boat.


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