There’s nothing worse than feeling like my time writing has gone to waste. The backspace key sometimes feels like my best friend. More than once, I’ve let hours slip by pressing “delete” more than even typing words. All I’m left with is a blank document staring me in the face and that guilty feeling that I should have been doing something more productive with my time.
As a kid, I used to always take paper from our printer. I’d steal a stack and fold it hamburger-style into a book. I’d bring it with me everywhere–the car, my grandparents’ house, church–composing my latest pencil-written novel and completely butchering the spellings of words.
Over the years, though, notebooks and journals began to scare me (especially the ones with pretty covers). I felt like I couldn’t write anything in them until I was sure of the exact wording I would use, the exact characters I wanted to write about, etc. I thought that I needed to do journals justice somehow. But recently, I’ve started to realize how beautiful scribbles and crossed out words look. It means you’ve tried. You’ve spent your time on something, and you have marks to show for it.
That is why I started keeping a creative writing journal a few years ago. So that I have the freedom to mess up, cross out, scribble, doodle, etc. So that I have something to show for my time instead of a blank screen. I also insist on using a pen so that I can’t erase my mistakes. And yes, it’s messy. It leaves my hand cramped and ink smeared on my skin (yay for being a leftie). But it’s freeing. And believe it or not, it’s actually fun to look back and see both things I’ve written and things I’ve crossed out. I enjoy seeing my process.
In the end, I’ve decided I would rather be left with a page full of scribbled-out words and blots of ink than a snow-white screen.