Pick up the pen

In July, I read and wrote obsessively. I read something like 23 books and I wrote something like 45,000 words (a lot of them on this blog). But, about 10 days ago, I took a break.

It was not a particularly intentional stoppage. I just stopped. I am not sure why.

I think part of me got distracted. I have been working on some rather emotionally taxing things in life. Things that leave me feeling a bit drained and unconfident.

Another part of me got nervous. Nervous? For what? How could I be nervous to start a book? It is a peculiar word choice—I admit. The book is harmless. And no one even really needs to know that I would be reading it. Why should I be nervous?

I think the answer is that sometimes I feel uneasy about picking up the pen. Sometimes it looks heavy. Sometimes it looks like opening the book will actually open the floodgates.

The dam is protected. And starting a new book or starting a new essay—well, that’s a moment where I am unprotected. That is a moment where the walls to the castle are down. That is a moment where my monkey mind is off the leash.

And in those moments, well, I am not in control. (Not to diffuse responsibility. Surely I am still in control. But, in fact, I make an effort, or rather not make an effort, to NOT control the brain and instead let it wander).

And perhaps that is why I have avoided discomfort.

I still have been running. So I am still finding time to be present and avoid the distractions.

But in avoiding writing and reading, I have also leaned into being distracted. I have run towards the comfort of NOT having to deal with my emotions head on. I go on long walks where I call my friends the whole time. That way, there is a voice in my ear besides my own.

So when I am looking at the pen, I am not just thinking about the rational act of hitting: “new post” on this blog.

I am actually thinking about all the pain and opportunity that comes from staring at this blank canvas. I am looking at the book cover and thinking about the marathon I have to run, alone.

That is why there are times where the only advice, the only mantra I want to repeat to myself is JUST START. Just start. JUST DO IT. Pick up the pen.

The first 3 miles of the run are just there to loosen up the legs.

The first 3 paragraphs of the essay are just there to loosen up the mind.

The first 3 chapters are just there to get your motor brain started.

You just have to start.

So that is what is on my mind today—picking up the pen, no matter how daunting, so that you can get the wheels in motion.


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