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Be the Pencil #1: The Epiphany of "Just Write"

DateBe the Pencil #1ViewRead the...
10/28/15The Epiphany of "Just Write"(Blog) (Forum)Disclaimer
RatingRating explanation
EPersonal thoughts on writing, or whatever your passion might be. Suitable for everyone.

On May 27th, 2014, I inundated a few of my friends- creative types all- with a barrage of text messages (apologies to those folks) because I had finally had an epiphany about my writing- it was like a light bulb went on inside. I wanted to share it with them, in hopes it would turn that bulb on for them as well, if they hadn't already found that switch on their own. The responses I got were positive, and one of them said I should put it on Facebook as a note. So on June 13, 2014 I did- in all of its longwinded glory.

Now here I am tonight, on October 28, 2015, posting for you fine folks of the Fan-Fic forum. Why? Because it's a message to creative types, and that applies to you (yes, YOU). In fact, these words apply to you folks just as much as my "real world friends," right down to the "I love you all." Truly. Just something to think about in regards to your writing. Hope it uplifts. -cb

Be the Pencil.
Be the Pencil.

For years, I have been stymied by the depressing realization that for a creative person, there will always be an unfinished project. It was depressing, because I was motivated by my fear of dying before I could get all of the characters and stories in my head into print. I stressed over which story project I should work on first, because what if that was the only one I ever got to finish? The weight and onslaught of time would wear me down with that worry that I would die with unfinished projects.

Then I had that epiphany: there will always be an unfinished project. Why? Because a creative person never stops creating. They can’t help themselves. Even if I finished all of the projects I have notes on today, new ones will have cropped up tomorrow, the next day, and so on. There will ALWAYS be an unfinished project. It was a tremendously relieving thought. It took all the stress off of me. If there is no way I can complete every creative project I have in mind, then there is no point in stressing over it.

The problem was that this greatly relieving epiphany killed my drive. If something was going to be left unfinished no matter how hard I worked on it, then why kill myself doing it? In fact, what’s the point of working on it at all? What guarantee do I have anyway that my greatest work won’t get missed, because I picked the wrong project to work on? This was the way my brain twisted a wonderful epiphany into a curse that kept me from pursuing my dreams of writing for a living.

I only started to come out of it in recent years, as my advancing age once again impressed the weight of time upon me- it was time to do something about writing, or reconcile myself to dying with nothing published. So it was back to feeling the stress of needing to complete this thing before I die, whenever that will be. And while it IS stressful, I welcomed it, because it pushed me to write again. Still, I haven’t had the same drive I had in my youth, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to regain it. But without the stress. I want the drive back, but to hold onto the relief I got from the epiphany about unfinished projects.

An instruction I received in my twenties.
An instruction I received in my twenties.

All this time too, I’ve been pondering an instruction I received concerning my writing, in my twenties. That was, basically: just write. Just write and the rest will fall into place. ... Just write? What the hell is that? Well, finally, today it hit me: it’s just that- just write.

I have participated in twenty writing contests on Comic Vine, and the ones I have done the best on are ones where I’ve pulled original characters off of my list and just wrote what I knew about them, without trying to figure them out completely- without worrying whether I was picking my best idea ever, or the number two hundred sixty-seventh choice. And I have finally seen life breathed into: Solomon Seal, vampire PI. Johnny Smokers, legend of the Old West. High Hat, the magician musician. I’ve seen a vigilante named The Rosary transformed into something cooler: The Skull Rosary- a man driven to avenge his sister. And really cool to me, I brought a brand new character to life just for the contest, and have used him in more than one entry: Heironymous, ancient dragon in human form, who has been a US Secret Service agent since Lincoln signed them into existence. There’s others, but those are the biggies.

But that is not the secret to “just write.” The secret to just write is this: you just write, because that is all you can do. You just write, because that is the point! If I am a creative person with a gift for writing- and I AM! -then I HAVE TO write, or I am missing the point! Obsessing over which idea is my best one is not the point. Worrying about how much time I have left to get my many ideas down is not the point. How old I am is not the point. Who will read my writing or not is not the point. How many unfinished projects I will leave behind is not the point. WRITING is the point, because IF I DON’T WRITE, THEN THEY WILL ALL BE UNFINISHED PROJECTS! Just write, just write, just write! Just. Write.

I finally get it, and as is so often the case with this type of thing, I feel very foolish for not understanding it sooner. But there it is. I am a writer. So what I need to do is: just write. I can call myself a writer all day long, but if I don’t actually write anything, then I have been of no more use than a pencil left lying in a drawer. If I am not doing what I was intended for, then what value do I have, really? It doesn’t matter if I run out of lead before I complete all of my projects- once I run out of lead, I’m finished regardless. The next pencil will have to pick up where I left off. That is not something for me to worry about. All I have to do is: just write.

I’m sharing this with you fine folks for a few reasons. One is that I need to get this out there- I’m letting God and the universe know that I heard what was being said to me, and I am ready to be the pencil. You are my witnesses to this.

Another is that I know you to be a creative person, whether your passion is music, art, acting, cooking, or whatever else. I needed this epiphany today, right now. I thought that maybe you might need it too. If you are not doing what you are meant for, then you are not living up to your true value. VALUE, not potential. Potential is something that can happen but isn’t. Value is proven.

...and now you know where this comes from.
...and now you know where this comes from.

A writer has a purpose: to write, just like the pencil. A writer’s purpose is not monitoring alarms, or managing a warehouse, or doing dishes. A baker needs to bake, a musician needs to play, an artist needs to paint/ draw/ do artsy stuff, an actor needs to act, and a director needs to direct. So replace “write” with whatever applies to you, and just (do that), but I’m calling it just write.

I love you folks. You keep me going with your constant drive to be more and be better. I hope this finds you well, and I hope it inspires you as much as it has me today. I’m moving forward with the purpose of writing til I quit breathing. That’s not to say that everything I write from here on will be wonderful. Some of it might suck and fail. But at least I will have tried. At least I am serving my true purpose. Serve your true purpose. Be the pencil. Just write. And everything will be just right. ;)

I love you all,



I Am a Pencil, by Sam Swope.
I Am a Pencil, by Sam Swope.

October 28, 2015

As a P.S. to this, I just want to add that within a few days of my original posting of this, I ran across a book called I Am a Pencil, by Sam Swope. The title came from a poem written by one of his students: a fourth grader named Jessica:

I am a pencil

ready to write

my life

From the mouths of babes. -cb

Next Issue: When Life Imitates Art- Knowing You Are On the Right Track.Originally presented:
Please let me know what you think, and thanks! -cbVia text, then on Facebook.

Be the Pencil, and all content, except for quoted material, is owned by Chris Bishop. Copyright Chris Bishop 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022.