It’s Okay to Slow Down

It’s already been a very long week, and my brain is tired, so I was commissioning ideas from my various writing peoples, and the Word Ninja over at Full Coverage Writers suggested I write about why a quill and ink is better than pen and paper.

And then someone else, who goes by the name Kami (which I have new appreciation for, after being in Japan), said she misread that as “quails and inks” and had momentarily gotten very offended on behalf of the quails.

To which the Word Ninja replied that quails could write too, if they really wanted to.

But I did ask him why a quill and ink was better, because I couldn’t think of a single reason why it would be. Writing with a quill, or a brush, is extremely frustrating, in my opinion. The ink spreads unevenly. It gets all over everything (invariably your hands, and then everything you touch forever because the ink also does not come off). It can smear before it dries.

And he said that it forces you to slow down and think about what you’re doing.

You know what? He’s right. I mean, I don’t think you need to resort to a quill and ink, but even switching to handwriting is a much slower process.

(Also, it is really hard to find a decent quill. Just throwing that out there.)

It seems like so much of writing these days is output. How many words you can crank out in a month. How many books you can write a year. And everyone gets bogged down on this, and if their output is slower, people get depressed. Feel like they’re not a real writer because they can’t keep up.

But you know what? I’ve found that a lot of the most prolific people don’t ever truly finish anything. They’re great at writing, but they don’t edit. They look at what they’ve written, declare it a mess, and move on to the next thing.

There is something to having a little bit of a plan, to paying attention to what you’re doing and where you’re going and making sure that it makes some semblance of sense. Makes for less work later. And as many smart people over the years have said, there is always joy in the journey as well.

When we were in Japan, we had the opportunity to go to Saiho-ji, which is a temple on the outskirts of Kyoto. It’s known as the Moss Temple because it has what is probably the best moss garden in the world. To protect the moss, they closed it to the public. To get in to see the gardens, you have to mail a postcard at least a month in advance asking for entrance on a specific day. Then, assuming there’s room (as they only accept a certain number of people each day), when you arrive you need to copy some Buddhism sutras (using a brush and ink, so same concept) and participate in some Buddhism prayers with the monks. And THEN you can go see the garden.

My Japanese calligraphy and/or skill with using a brush are both terrible, apparently. It took me about an hour and a half to copy my sutras. My husband and I were literally the last people done.

But you know what? It was kind of fun. And we got the gardens to ourselves because everyone else had already left.

(And the gardens were totally worth the complication of admission.)

So don’t forget that it’s okay to take things slow, to enjoy the process and the journey. We write because we want to, because we need to. And it’s all right to do that in whatever way works best.

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