Why Write?

By: Thomas Belskie

July 27, 2017

I write to try to figure myself out. That’s the simplest (and most pretentious) explanation I can give. I don’t like writing. Most of the time, I hate it.

A lot of people say you need to really love writing to be a writer. They say things like if it feels like work, it’s probably not for you.

But for me, it’s painful. I cringe at most of what I write and it’s rarely an enjoyable process. I pause often and think about what to say next. I hit the backspace key more than any other key on the keyboard.

It’s toxic, poisonous in a way. It can feel like torture. It’s demoralizing. But it’s like digging. If I sit at a desk and stumble and struggle long enough, eventually, if I’m lucky, I can uncover some truth. The truth is like gold.

It takes a lot of work and metaphorical sweat to get there. Real, authentic, meaningful writing is something I will always struggle to produce. And that frightens me because I never know if I’ll be able to do it again.

It’s not something I can have and possess in any permanent way. Its fleeting. It’s something I can only catch glimpses of. But the only way to catch those glimpses is to work at it. It doesn’t come tap me on the shoulder. I have to go after it.

The only thing I love about writing is being done with it and having something I’m proud of. That doesn’t happen a whole hell of a lot, but striving after that feeling is worth it. Discovering things about myself is worth it. Writing something that resonates with me is all I can ever hope for.

If it was easy and I just loved doing it because it came so easy to me, I’m not certain I’d ever write anything worth a damn.

 

“Love is Not a Whisper or a Weakness”

By: Thomas Belskie

“Love is not a whisper or a weakness. No, love is strong” -Dave Matthews

Today’s the day to say I love you. Not tomorrow.

You’ll never know when someone’s time is up. You’ll never know when it’s the last time you’ll have a chance to tell them how much they mean to you. You’ll never know when it’s the last time you’ll be able to experience the miracle of seeing their face, hearing their voice, or sharing a laugh.

You’ll just never know.

I write this today, not because of any profound loss in my own life or any specific tragedy, but because right now everything is going well. It’s precisely at times like these that we tend to take everything and everyone in our lives for granted. But I don’t want to let today be one of those days.

It’s unfortunate, but it often takes a blindsiding, soul crushing loss or a random tragic event to refocus ours minds and to remind us to say ‘I love you’ to the people in our lives who mean the most to us.

So don’t let this day go by without telling someone in your life how much they mean to you. Don’t feel weird about it.

When you’re ending a phone call in a public place, just say it. When you’re going to bed at night let the words flow. Even if the person you’re talking to is at the grocery store five minutes away from your house and only called to ask what kind of bread you want, say ‘I love you’.

It’ll never be enough, but never miss an opportunity to say it at least one more time.

One Month Challenge – Morning Pages + 500 Words + 1 Blog Post – Every Day

By: Thomas Belskie
July 25, 2017

Starting on Tuesday August 1, 2017, I am embarking on a challenge to write Morning Pages and a minimum of five-hundred, typed words, and at least one blog post every single day for the entire month.

The only rules are:

  1. Morning pages must be hand written.
  2. The 500 words must be typed (personally I am limiting myself to the same continuous project, not just any 500 words I feel like).
  3. Blog posts do not count towards the 500 word total.

Morning pages is something I should be doing every morning and anyway and five-hundred words is the perfect amount to be manageable. There’s no excuse not to be able to squeeze out five-hundred words.

I will keep notes and write a post about it at the end of the month. I encourage you to join the challenge as well!

So that means if you complete the challenge, you should have 31 new blog posts, 93 sheets of hand written morning pages, and a minimum of 15,500 typed words at the end of the month of August.

Good luck!

Wild Flowers and Mountains

By: Thomas Belskie
July 24, 2017

Your hamstrings and calves cry out in pain. They are in a state of all out revolt and anarchy each step of the way. Your ankles, feet, and back ache from the day before.

Your lungs work overtime to take in as much thin mountain air as they possibly can and it’s still not enough as your heart pounds in your ears. Your out-of-shape desk body wasn’t made for this.

“What a stupid idea. I’m never doing this again,” you tell yourself as you curse the steep, never ending incline, winding towards some point unknown.

Then, after an eternity, you make it. You take that last step that lets you know, loud and clear, what all the suffering was for. You smile. You could never imagine something so beautiful. You can’t wait to do it again.

I Wrote Morning Pages Everyday for a Week. Here’s What Happened.

By: Thomas Belskie
July 23, 2017

I forced myself to write morning pages every morning for seven straight days. It wasn’t exceedingly difficult, but it wasn’t easy either. I tried to do it as close to first thing in the morning as possible, somewhere in between brushing my teeth and putting on the coffee. Some mornings I was done in thirty minutes and one time it took me an hour and a half. I wrote a previous post about my struggle to stay focused during these exercises.

Here are some things I noticed over my week of doing morning pages:

  1. My productivity went up. During my daily writing sessions for the novel I’m working on, I was able to pump out a higher than normal word count. I felt unencumbered and the words were just flowing. For the week I wrote nearly 10,000 words. Which is probably double my normal output.
  2. My stress levels were down. It was almost therapeutic to get all those random thoughts in my head out onto paper. I think the process of writing it down quiets those nagging voices and allows you to focus on the day and what you need to accomplish.
  3. My writing was better. I started to think of morning pages as stretching for my brain. Since my brain was loose and warmed up I was able to get into my writing zone much faster and say what I wanted to say with ease. It wasn’t a chore or a laboring effort to get something worthwhile down on the page.

Those are three incredibly powerful reasons to write morning pages. I think morning pages would probably be beneficial to almost anyone, even non-writers. Higher productivity, higher quality output, and less stress. Who couldn’t use that in their life?

Overall it was a good experience and I intend to try to keep it going and start and even longer streak. My next challenge will be to do morning pages every morning for a whole month.

 

Open Spaces

By: Thomas Belskie
July 23, 2017

Whether it’s a highway cutting through the Great Plains, a mountain top, or the desert, the sheer vastness of open, wild spaces reminds me how small I am. It gives me that perspective on how big the world actually is.

It’s easy to lose sight of that fact in the hustle and bustle of daily life in a western, capitalist society. We don’t do nearly enough to emphasize the importance of breaking away and getting outside.

Regaining that perspective is good for the soul. It refocuses the mind, even if it’s just for a little while, on what is important. It’s the perfect meditation.