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January 30, 2020

Letting it all out

Life has been busy for the past couple of months. Work of course, the Meetup I organize, the kids at home, the house itself. Like everybody. It’s been hard to carve some moments where I can think and breathe a bit. I’ve noticed that in these few moments, the activities that bring me joy all have this in common: Letting something out.

Writing

I enjoy writing. I like revising my writing much more than I liked revising my music (it was painful). I’ve been invited to write pieces for a trade magazine (they flaked on me, so I posted it here and on LinkedIn) and a vendor’s blog. Nothing “creative” per se, but still some writing work.

About 5 years ago, I thought that I was really going to get into writing: take classes, workshops, etc. And then it didn’t happen. I might try again later. At this time, though, I found a tool that I really liked: Ilys.

The idea is simple: You start a session and decide right off the bat how many words you want to write. Once the session is started, you can only see what you type one letter at a time, you cannot go back, and you will only see your copy once you’ve reached your word goal. Brilliant.

The thing that slows me down the most when I write is the constant real-time editing. Ilys prevents that. It’s a bit annoying at first and then it’s liberating. I was able to write the second piece much faster than I anticipated thanks to Ilys. I was just letting it out and it was very enjoyable.

A screenshot of Ilys showing a black screen with just one large letter at the center--the latest letter that was typed.

A screenshot of Ilys.

Journaling

Arguably another form of writing, except that I only write by hand in my journal. Even If I never followed Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way I kept the idea of the morning pages. Journaling is another place of flow and letting out/letting go that brings me joy.

A master of the art of journaling is Austin Kleon and a practice that I’ve started yesterday is keeping a logbook. I also see it as a gratitude journal, and a way to look back on the day and extract what was delightful and inspiring (there’s always something delightful and inspiring; sometimes we just need to look harder).

Drawing

Finally, a third practice that puts me in the same mental place is drawing. I enjoy sketching ideas or simply doodling. I treated myself with Illustrator artist’s markers by Spectrum Noir. They are alcohol dye based and the colors don’t bleed when I write on top of a pencil line. I also treated myself with a graphics tablet that I use to work in Blender and it’s another kind of freedom.

If you want to get started, this article by Ralph Ammer was trending a lot two years ago and is still a good resource: https://ralphammer.com/a-quick-beginners-guide-to-drawing/.

I feel good about connecting these three practices. Now I just need to find a good balance.

Photo by Chris Abney on Unsplash