If a writer is a person who writes rather than one who is regularly published or earns a living by doing it, I can claim to be a writer all of my life. From high school and college yearbooks and literary magazines to diaries and journals, I have written almost daily and still do.
Like many, I graduated from diaries to The Artist’s Way when it first came out and wrote the requisite three pages first thing in the morning. These writings are not to be shared, which is a good thing. Before moving I found a trunk load of them. Dipping into them, the contents were banal and boring and quickly trashed. But I still like the process of writing pages in the morning. It works to clear the head and focus on what really matters in the day ahead. Many good projects have resulted from early day scribbling.
But there is another kind of writing that rates attention – traditionally compiling important insights of others known as the commonplace book – in which I write worthwhile quotes from books I read. These provide a more reliable record of my own interests and gradual maturing. The authors that I copy are diverse – management experts, visionaries, philosophers, monks and nuns, political commentators among others – but these writings are worth keeping and visiting again and again. For that reason, they deserve a good notebook with a hard cover. Dating the entries makes them a personal autobiography.