Clichéd But Not Wrong

The toughest blog post to write each month is the one I write in my grab-bag category. As many writers know, perhaps the worst thing someone can do to a writer is tell us to “write whatever you want.”

The monthly roundups of my recent reading and viewing activities write themselves just by reviewing my journal. Writing about writing isn’t necessarily easy, but I can find a topic fairly quickly.

My current events posts could be summarized by that “old person yelling at sky” meme, if we’re being blunt about it. And truly, they’re easy to bang out in a short amount of time.

But the free-for-all at the end of the month? Whew, talk about giving myself too many options. It’s probably why so many writers get paralyzed by the blank page. We have so many ideas and so much time that we’re just not able to focus on one particular item.

But, give us a writing prompt and/or a deadline, and we’ll hit that mark. Our creativity and indecision have been curtailed, and we can just settle down to focus on the work.

This feeds into some other items I’ve been working on. I’ve been seeing a really terrific therapist for a few years. And, as anyone who has been in therapy recently will tell you, a big topic is mindfulness. 

I’ve also been reading some of the Daily Stoic email posts by Ryan Holiday. Now, I do not fully embrace all of the Stoic teachings. But the aspects of Stoicism that Holiday highlights in his emails each day fit within the mindfulness work that my therapist has me trying to do.

That is, I’m trying to be more aware of how my experiences might be coloring my perceptions and leading me to emotional responses that are rooted in old patterns and traumas. What I’d rather do is focus on the reasons why I have the emotional reactions and then try to gauge if my response is genuinely warranted or not.

As anyone who is attempting to change old habits or be more mindful and present will tell you, none of that is easy to do. So, I’m always looking for additional tools that will help me see that work from a new perspective. Hence, the Daily Stoic posts.

It’s also why I picked today’s image for this post. Since I didn’t have a topic in mind, I was browsing different images on, trying to find one that caught my attention.

This particular image came up, and I was struck by it. I immediately started thinking of all the different ways this space—and image—could be used.

This could be a lovely little breakfast nook at a writing retreat. Or, a lovely space for writing at that retreat. 

Maybe it’s the quiet location where a couple has their first date. Or, perhaps it’s some writer’s dream workspace, just awaiting their arrival with writing tools and a beverage. It’s almost the definition of Virginia Woolf’s “a room of one’s own,” isn’t it? If we could only have *that writing space*, we’d be better writers and stick with our craft every day.

And, running through all of those possibilities, I realized—yet again—how much time I spend thinking about “I’ll do such-and-such in another year.” Or next month. Or tomorrow.

I think humans in general spend so much time daydreaming about the perfect future that we fail to notice our present. And, writers in particular are guilty of living in the not-yet.

But, the Stoics also remind us that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Again, that’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it wrong. The dual nature of “Never forget that all things die” and “Don’t forget that you must live” at the heart of Stoicism is a healthy reminder to all of us. 

As Mary Oliver asked, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

My follow-up question to that is: And, why aren’t I doing that right now?

Image Credit: Photo by Chloé Chavanon on Unsplash

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