I scribble. A lot.
And just to clarify, scribbling is not the same as doodling in my world. Scribbling is writing and doodling is drawing.
I doodle a lot too, actually. I consider myself an amateur doodler, though, while I’m definitely a professional scribbler.
My scribbling takes a number of forms.
The most common of all my scribbles is the to-do list. I love making to-do lists, because it’s a good way to put off actually accomplishing any of the things that are on the list. I make them all the time – at my desk as I wait for my kids to finish their journals, at the doctor’s office while I wait for my appointment to start, or even at the gas station, while I wait for Chompers’s little 10-gallon tank to fill up.
Other times, when I’m watching a movie, reading a book, or simply people-watching, I’ll find myself reaching for a scrap of paper, a journal, or even my own forearm. On these assorted surfaces, I’ll scribble quotes that I find particularly meaningful or ideas inspired by the situations that I’m watching or reading.
Fairly often these days, whenever I can force myself to keep my scribbling legible to a normal person, I’ll scratch out a letter to a friend. With so many of my compadres spread out across the country, I’m definitely contributing to keep the post office’s doors open. I write holiday cards, I miss you cards, and just because cards in my best scribble-manship.
Once or twice a week, I’ll scribble out a blog post onto a piece of paper to type up later. Yes, I understand that typing is often faster, but I’m not always at a computer when the perfect opening springs up in my mind. And so sometimes, I have to translate my old school ink-and-paper musings into the digital age.
The bulk of my scribbling, despite to-do lists being the most common, exists in the pages and documents that, once compiled and typed into a never-ending document, are my attempts at “real writing.” By “real writing,” I mean the short stories I turn out in five hours or less, the plot twists I add to my novels as I sit and watch my students bust their booties trying to compose a how-to paper, and the perfect description of my main character’s bedroom as I scroll through the Ikea catalog online.
Years ago, while I was in college, I came across a book at the Columbia Public Library called The Midnight Disease. Much like a hypochondriac discovering WebMD for the first time, I was overcome with the notion that I could possibly have this disorder, revealed to be a condition called “hypergraphia.” In normal person words, that’s the uncontrollable urge to write.
Honestly, it remains to be seen whether or not I have this condition. I’m pretty sure that I have to have some other form of crazy (or epilepsy, which I feel it’s important to note is not a “form of crazy,” as I put it) in order to have it – so let’s assume I don’t. I prefer to think of what I have as hyperscribbly. I honestly can’t always control my need to scribble down ideas, take notes, or compose Seuss-like limericks.
I find it one of my more interesting traits, and I treasure my scribbling habit. Why? Because despite the fact that my house would go up in a minute because of all the papers and books everywhere, it keeps my creative brain turning. It keeps the muse close. And for me, that’s important.
In order to write, I have to find an idea, or muse. But that’s only half the battle. The other half? Remembering the idea that muse whispered in my ear when I actually have time to develop it. Enter scribbling, my creative brain’s best friend. And I’m having a hyperscribbly flare up this week. Symptoms started to show late last week, and it got pretty serious last night.
Today, I spent a lot of time scribbling over an idea that pounced on my brain last night. At first I thought, “How rude. Couldn’t this muse wait for next week, when I’m on spring break?” But today? Today I realized the truth.
No. No, it couldn’t wait. Because the next week is going to be a really rough one to get through, and I’m going to need all the distraction and creative thought in the world just to make it to the other side. Thanks, creative brain. You’re really pulling your weight. So I guess I’ll let you do your thing, just so long as you save a little space for my blogging, too.