Just show up

Words by Mary Karr about a commonplace book. “You’re just constantly copying in longhand.”

In morning pages, the idea is that the hand keeps moving on the page, writing about anything —anything— until the set number of pages is filled up. For three pages, on wide rule spiral notebook paper. Half and hour. 30 minutes, keep your hand moving on the page. These days, having participated in one round of NaNoWriMo, written by hand, I got good at estimating word count based on the number of lines on the pages of a spiral bound notebook. Wide Rule, 27 lines. College Rule (narrower lines), 33 lines per page. I After decades of writing in Wide Rule notebooks (3 pages = 81 lines of writing), I came to appreciate College Rule. Now I write for two pages, 66 lines. Maybe my handwriting is smaller on the narrowly lined pages. Don’t know.

But I take out my pen and paper, and I write.

I show up. That’s the point of it. There are two rules:

  1. Keep your hand moving on the page.
  2. When you write, do not edit.

It’s a way of showing up.

My S. O. says, “90% of life is showing up.” (The wisdom of an age-group swimmer now a Master’s Swimmer who has just shown up in the pool for decades.)

The day before the announcement that the Board of Directors of Twitter met to accept an offer to purchase the company, I began a new thing, a just show-up thing.

This is what I wrote, that day (you can see me in the act of writing down the words on the page shown above):

On the morning of the Twitter Announcement, I was grateful that I’d started this new effort the previous day. Okay, there’s all this noise out there slung back and forth in tweets and hot takes. I need to set up the camera stand, and write another thing in this notebook. I gotta show up.

I didn’t start one new thing, though. Looks like I’m starting two. Show up there in a time-lapse hand-written form, post as a movie.

And show up here. Not that I’ll do this here blogging daily, but at the outset, each day I do this daily now, I make it easier to come back again, so the front page of this blog is not a set of “oh wow, I gotta start blogging again” jittered sets of starts with no follow up.

This, today, is my follow up. Just do it. Just practice.