Writing Outside the Lines

Writing Outside the LinesWhen it comes to putting pen to paper, I’ve spent my whole life writing in between the lines. This seems a bit ironic for someone who is known for coloring outside of the lines in so many aspects of my life. You would think that the two would go hand-in-hand, but oddly for me, that has not been the case.

It’s been like a strange battle between two opposing forces. One is seeking order and organization, while the other is constantly unraveling it. The creative person in me is full of free flowing thoughts and ideas, while this other force is trying to make sense of it all.

Well, guess what? It doesn’t have to make sense! And I am starting to feel like all of these bulleted lists and notes are slowly choking me.

From a young age we are taught to write between the lines, and I have done that. But as time went on, those lines have become narrower and narrower, confining the writing experience to the small, predefined structure of the ruled page. I thought that this was a good thing, because it kept me from writing in a slanted line, or from writing too big or too small.

As a highly visual person, I have come to realize that I cannot connect my thoughts in a bulleted list. It’s good for organizing, but it’s very difficult for me see the real connection.

Bullet PointsSo, recently I changed to square ruled paper. I thought this would give me a bit more freedom in terms of where I could place information on the page and have more options for how I organized my notes. But, it also added twice as many lines and even greater confinement. I now had both horizontal and vertical barriers to contend with, and I didn’t really want either.

Then it happened…

On Friday, I was given a gift. A very scary gift. It was a set of Moleskine notebooks. I was delighted! Moleskine notebooks have been my notebooks of choice for many years, and one of my favorite things and obsessions as a writer. It was the perfect gift!

Upon closer inspection the following day, I noticed that the notebooks were PLAIN PAPER! They were completely unruled. They were BLANK! Do you understand what I am saying? There are no guidelines for me anywhere in these notebooks. What the heck am I supposed to do with these? I can’t write without lines! Why would anyone buy me notebooks without lines? It doesn’t make any sense!

Then it hit me…

This morning, while in the shower (my think tank), I thought again about those blank, unruled pages, and it hit me. I don’t need lines to express myself!

Maybe it is time to rid myself entirely of the order and symmetry that a ruled piece of paper represents. Instead, I should be embracing the plain white piece of paper and a whole new world of endless possibilities where I can write anywhere I want or use the page in anyway that I see fit. How liberating!

All these years the lines have been a crutch, and an excuse. They have forced me to stay within small, structured boundaries. It’s time to let go and allow my pen to express itself in new ways without the hindrance of lines.

I can’t believe it took me so long to get here. I admit that I probably would never have bought these unruled notebooks for myself. But, I will be forever grateful for the friends who saw in me a person who wasn’t meant for lined paper, especially when I failed to see that in myself.

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