Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 3: Writing "when your soul is thin as a playing card"

Now we come to the heart of the matter. Nulla dies sine linea. The Latin axiom "Not a day without lines" sounds simple--and it IS simple--once it becomes a habit. That's what 100 days of discipline is all about--building the habits that not only support your goal, they facilitate it. They make it easy.

Of course, the goal is to write more than a few lines. (We'll get to that later.) But the first step is to make writing a practice: habitual, necessary, a part of the rhythm that is your day.

It doesn't matter if it's Saturday and the world is taking a day off, if you're not "inspired," (highly overrated) if it's Christmas and you're cooking a six course meal for twelve, you're still going to have your coffee, right? And during the course of the day, you're going to perform at least a dozen other tasks--some good, some not- that your subconscious has been trained to perform without struggle.

Nulla dies sine linea.

We're talking one line here; excuses are not allowed. If you've just worked a sixteen hour shift (been there), or even if "your soul is as thin as a playing card" as Joyce Carol Oates memorably said (ditto), you can still open your notebook or your laptop and sit with your work for a few moments. You can still write your line.

Then, if possible, follow it with another one until you have a page or three pages or maybe even a chapter. But if all you have is a paragraph or a three word sentence, give it. Give it with all your heart. (More on that later, too.)

Then go to bed at 10 p.m. That's my cue...


  1. Patry, you are my muse/task master! Nulla dies sine linea...Nulla dies sine linea... Maybe I should look up how to pronounce it so I can actually chant it....

  2. Oh my, look what I found:

  3. R: I'm counting on you to check up on me.

    K: What a great link! Lots of interesting info, as well as the pronunciation. I've been singing it ever since--and LOUDLY. Fortunately, I'm alone in the house, though I must admit, the cats have scattered.

  4. Oh, Patry, this is just what I need, a daily reminder to get with it! Wonderful new blog, so fabulous to have you as a muse.

  5. Yay! Thanks for adjusting the comments so I could join in the conversation. (i feel so special!)

    I used to do a talk on writing for wanna-be writers where I'd try to break through the "there's not enough time" excuses. Being the brazen babe that I am, I always loved saying: "Hey, do you read magazines on the toilet? Well then ...?" (always found the men blushed and the women laughed ... totally busted ...) Perhaps 'Nulla dies sine linea' would go over a little better. I'll have to remember that. :)

  6. I don't suppose this line counts ;)

  7. marja-leena: So glad you found me! I've been meaning to put a note on Simply Wait (at Steve's suggestion) but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    deb: A funny but true reminder: there's ALWAYS time!

    Lisa: We're two of a kind! I was wondering if this blog post counted...