This writing business could get messy. (It’s supposed to.)

If you’re making notes daily, observing the world and writing ten or fifteen minutes at a time, your collection of lines may not seem like much at first. You may have a glowing jarful of fireflies when you look one day, and swear the next that all you’ve got is sweater lint. So hold off on labeling for a while and just keep going. Look for what draws you in, what sends a tiny jolt through your mind or memory. And keep paying close attention to the ordinary. You can’t know, early on, how your wild, random collection of observations will be (or has been) orchestrated by the part of you that writes. But as you go, you’ll begin to see patterns, and doors that call you through them as you keep feeling your way through them. You'll begin to notice where your mind wants to take you.

Standing in the shower at the gym last week, I found myself studying the tile in front of me, a light mauve square pale mottled by mist, layers of condensation and the faint trails of splashes and drips. As I stared, it became the fabric for a summer dress, delicately patterned, or perhaps slightly ruined, then a canvas I wished I could paint, then a bathroom wall that my mother and I had scrubbed once for a wealthy family on the other side of town. I ran my finger over it, bringing myself back, and got out to search for paper.

In paying attention to what's in front of you, you'll find what's inside, as well. Look carefully. Enter what you see. You’ll discover where you’re going by going; meaning will find you.

It's there for you to discover

Enjoy the messiness and loopy trains of thought that string your notes and observations together. There’s a story in there. A poem. A scene. I’ve always been amazed at how much has grown from what I'd initially despaired over as “false starts.”

Patience and persistence, beautiful writer person. Stay with it. Tell me in the comments what you discover.

(The fabulous Sally Schneider at The Improvised Life, has a great archived post on the messiness of creating here.)

Image by Jamelah e. via Flickr