The Magic Pencil

I sat down to write the other day, and couldn’t find my pencil. I specifically bought this pencil for my writing. While allowing myself to search for a few brief moments, I realized what trouble I would be in if I had turned this basic tool into a Magic Pencil, an indispensable tool that was vital to my writing process. If I had attached too much significance to it, my writing session could have been over before it began. This is why I don’t let myself form muse-attachments anymore.

Early in my research into writing, most of the people who mentioned this phenomenon were in favor of it. They said to write in the same place every day, at the same time. They advised having an inspiring picture, a special notebook, or other triggers to your creativity, all symbols meant to tell your muse, your writer’s intuition, “Now is the time to create.”

I’ve worked with symbols and the subconscious quite a bit in my life, and only one writer pointed out the danger of this plan. What if your schedule suddenly changes and you lose your key writing time? What if you move? What if you lose your magic writing pencil?

I used to have an entire room dedicated to my writing, with a huge desk, drawings of my characters on the walls, maps, charts, all kinds of triggers for ideas. I had special gorgeous journals and favorite fountain pens. Over time, the journals became spiral notebooks, the fountain pens became mechanical pencils, and my desk turned into a portable plastic folding table I can set up anywhere in my home in two minutes. I’ve never been more productive.

I let myself write free-hand, type, use dictation software, pens, pencils, journals, notepads, napkins; whatever is in arm’s reach becomes my writing tools, and I am never at a loss. I write at coffee shops, in bed, at the library, on the floor, in the kitchen, on the couch, at the park. The various scenery isn’t a distraction. It feeds my settings, enriches my descriptions, and reminds me that writing is a vital part of my life, but not my entire life. It lets me write anywhere, anytime, and maintain balance.

Symbols can be motivating and helpful, especially when you’re starting out. But it’s important to be conscious of how you’re using them.

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