“I’m a writer!”

Those were the words that chorused out of our classroom on my first day of English 370.

Our professor, Dr. Richard Louth, gave us more than this new mantra. On that first day, he also gave us Dr. Kim Stafford’s little book, Meditations and Poems for Writers.

This little book has since become my favorite writing aid, with invaluable thoughts on writing as a habit, overcoming writer’s block, and musing.

Amongst my favorite insights is the journaling method Kim’s dad—U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford—used to write every day from the 1950s to his death in 1993.

I’ll briefly outline the method here:

  1. Write the date at the top of the page. This means you've done the hardest part: starting.
  2. Jot down the 'boring prose'—little details of what's happening around you.
  3. Capture an aphorism, which is an "idea, thought, [or] essay, the length of a single sentence."
  4. Polish it somehow: into a poem, a polished prose paragraph, or something else.

Not only is this method simple—it’s incredibly profound. “The muse comes to the moving pen,” as Keith Caldwell puts it. It has certainly come to my moving pen, as these musings were what prompted me to start this blog.

Today I’ve got something special to share. I’ve elected to show you guys one of my earliest journal entries. Reading it now, I laugh (and cringe) at the way I made it rhyme. Still, I smile. Writing, even in a fragile form, is stunningly beautiful. I really hope this little piece will encourage you to begin practicing journaling yourself.

Step 1 - Date: Sept 1, 2020; 10:30 A.M.; D Vickers Hall 315

Step 2 - Boring Prose: The sounds that hum, the rustles that blow. I hear the imagined world, outside the window. When I close my eyes, the sounds are so real. The world becomes faint as we near 10:38.

Step 3 - Aphorism: I realize it’s always with me, under my ear. We think the world is distant, yet it is almost unbearably near. When you pause for a second, take a look. Observe the sounds you might’ve mistook.

Step 4 - Polished Piece:

The world is yours; you are in it.
Don't miss life because you're too busy living it.