Compare the person you are before you write to the person you are after creative alchemy takes place. Focus on details: how you feel physically, mentally, emotionally — before & after. Compare the pain of doing it to the pain of not doing it.

Before picking up the pencil, I am at peace with who I am. I like to watch Tv while curling up on my favorite spot on the couch. Reading a book whether it’s required for school or not, going on long drives with my father until we can’t stand each other anymore or playing video games.

On a good writing day, I feel invincible, planning my future as the story unfolds. I witness the word count increasing, page numbers adding to those already written. Confidence swelling as I admire my imagination, my hard work and how far I’ve come since I first put pencil to paper. Though my hand cramps, the bump on my right ring finger pulsing from gripping the pencil too hard, the thoughts won’t stop coming and don’t always appear clearly on the page. The smell of lead makes my nose itch, pants covered in erasure shavings, toes curling at the base of my office chair. In that moment, I know this is the person I want to be. In pain, suffocating and on the edge of my seat but thriving, breathing and ecstatic about what I’m creating.

On a bad writing day I consider all that I could have written. The story idea I cannot articulate on the page, the day lost, the two sentences dying in front of me. In these moments I feel like I’m caught between self-doubt and self-assurance. I know there is a story inside me, so why is it so difficult to write? Why sit in the office when I could be in the living room watching TV? Because I love to write but why can’t I do it everyday? The ideas are there, I can see them, but why can’t I write them? Instead, I make lists of plots I don’t take seriously, plan to do things such as generate blog posts, look up places to submit to or edit old work, all of which I do on good writing days. The bad ones leave me feeling lonely and insecure, wondering if this is all just a hobby.


Create an adventure. If you live in or around a city, write about your life if you were to move to the remote country. If you live in a rural area, write about your life the first day moving to the big city. The world is a big place, both extremes deserve illumination. 

Sirens and taxi horns try to overwhelm each other. A woman yells into her phone. She told him what time to pick her up. no excuses. He’s done this before. What’s that supposed to mean? That was different. Silence. Smoke blasts from between her clenched teeth like the tall cylinders polluting the air on the outskirts of Philadelphia. That city was always across the bridge, beyond the airport, away from the quiet suburb where the youngest child was graduating from middle school and all the neighbors kept to themselves.

New York. Even the hallway is loud and I’m forced to carry mace in my bag to go on a walk to clear my head. A homeless man shakes his cup at me. “At me,” I say under my breath, the guilt makes my eye twitch but I never stop. Lights for restaurants flicker shades of neon, people crowding to go to unknown locations. I see a woman’s shoes that I like and want to tell her. Let her cross the street, making sure a few people separate us to prevent me from speaking my mind. Subway cars screech beneath concrete.

Catcalls, advertisements and close clutched bags al lake me shrink inside my trench coat. Someone’s always talking, shouting, yelling, honking. Everyone has somewhere to be, knows where they are going, who they are meeting, where they belong.

Except me. I cam here alone. Moved her alone for a job I couldn’t get to on the first day because I’m afraid of trains and subways. So much noise underground, blaring, distracting, disruptive noise. I’m walking alone though I try to act confident, just being here, surrounded by many but reaching none of them.

So I go to the park, stay close to the street o watch the businessman carrying a leather suitcase with gold combination lock balance a phone between his cheek and shoulder, checking his watch. A jogger whose ponytail whips into her mouth while she sings Frank Sinatra. A couple checking to see if their child is asleep, the father stopping while the other lifts the blanket protecting the child’s head from the chill. They sigh, the husband admits they should do this more often. The wife crosses her arms and shakes her head. A sheepish grin spread across his face before they cross the street.

Neon lights continue to emit static, taxis drift by in search of customers. Building invade the sky threatening to puncture tomorrow’s clouds. I blow hot air through pursed lips, like the buildings shooting smoke through cylinders on the outskirts of Philadelphia. But here, I am at the center. New York. For a job I cannot get to, in a building where where everyone is awake during different intervals of the day, at a park witnessing people thrive.

And I cannot help but feel that one day I will be walking, knowing where I’m going, having someplace to be, while someone watches from a park bench, wondering what it’s like to be at peace in this city.