Every day of my 50th year I wrote in a simple bound notebook, a return to elements—word, sentence, image. I used only pen on paper, recalling pre-keyboard days and my diary-keeping girlhood. Then, I wrote about what I was feeling, what I had read, about boys and friends. As I grew older I wrote about what I thought, where I traveled, and boys (still). With marriage and parenthood, I chronicled the joy, the overwhelm, the mundane. Journaling was a comfort.
After the publication of my first novel, writing became a job on top of my other jobs. Any spare time went toward working on the next manuscript, enriching characters, plotting, fixing sentences. But I forgot to play.
On January 1, 2014 I began to write daily about water (I wrote about my intention here). It was my mantra: How did I use water today? Were storms in the news? What are my memories of swimming, of rain? Living on the water and commuting by ferry gave me an easy landscape to study but I also dug in to other topics: Composting toilets, ice skating on frozen ponds, making tea, access to fresh water, and California's drought.
The 365-day exercise surprised me. I had forgotten how much I like making sentences to make sense of the world. When I opened my mind with pen in hand, I fell in love again with words.
Every author I know says this: Writers have to write. Putting down what’s in your head is essential to being a storyteller. It’s all practice—listening to your internal life and imagining others. Puzzling out what happened—not only the this and that of it, but the why and how.
My water log—each 200-word record—is not intended for publication. But many entries, I found, were poem starts. I revised 12 of them, to create a year in water, including Morning Paddle (right).
What would happen if you dedicated just 15 minutes each day to your art?
Here's what I've been thinking and writing about. I love getting email, too!