9/2/21: The Routine



Hello, dear reader.


I have just lit a candle -- the same candle that I burn whenever I sit down and write at the end of the night. I try to be a creature of habit (sometimes that is the hardest thing to do), and write at the end of every day (even though sometimes I really don't want to). The habit is always the same:


  1. Light a candle with an indescribable smell. It is a smell that reminds me of winter. Apparently it is a combination of lavender and eucalyptus, but it really just reminds me of ice skating.

  2. Turn on the sounds of a thunderstorm. Where I live it hardly ever rains, which is a shame, because I adore the rain.

  3. Sit at my desk in the warm orange glow of my desk lamp, usually during an hour where most of the world sleeps, open my leather bound journal, and write a shitty poem.

And when I say shitty, I really do mean it. As of today, I have written over 250 poems in the course of the last year and a half. Most of them I think are absolutely terrible. But out of the 250, there are a few, maybe 20 or 30, that I think are good. Quite good, actually. Good enough to publish, good enough to share with you. Those are the ones that you see here on my website.


Because here's the reason why I'm sharing this with you tonight: If you are a writer, a writer of any kind, I want to try and encourage you to find your own personal, unique, and wholly individual routine, complete with a smell, a sound, and of course, your favorite pen or pencil. Because writing really is a lot like the act of digging. And as writers, we dig, and dig, and dig. Most of the time, what we come up with is dirt. But sometimes, we come up with something a little bit better. Sometimes we strike gold.


One of the hardest lessons I learned when I went to school to become a writer is that writing was like any other skill. That it required years of patience and hours of practice. It is like learning how to play an instrument or a sport -- your muscles develop the memory to write slowly over time, just like artists develop the memory to paint. We can't get better at writing unless we continually practice it, and perhaps even more importantly, fail at it.


Not only that, but getting better at writing comes from reading and discovering the kind of writing that you like. For me, I have fallen in love with both The Poetry Foundation and The Academy of American Poet's "Poem of the Day." Every day they share a new poem. Every day I read a new poem. And maybe 20% of the time, I find a new way of expressing something I had never dreamed of before. My folder of favorite poems is always constantly growing.


Even now, I had no intention of writing this much for this blog post (After all, I am going to have to continue writing them... I don't want to run out of ideas too quickly). Tonight I did not even want to write and yet, here I am. And here you are, reading it. I have no choice but to blame the candle, the thunder, and the routine.



-JC