month eight: Lynda Barry’s daily diary

IMG_8974I admit it, turning the TV off for the month of July was not entirely successful. I cheated a bunch. I’d come home from work exhausted and sit and watch Anthony Bourdain eat delicious-looking food in beautiful-looking countries. I did fairly well, however, at avoiding the useless local news. My partner was less committed to the project, so that didn’t help. It felt silly to be sitting at my desk playing on the internet while he watched TV on the other end of the room. What’s the difference between mindless internet and mindless TV? Nothing really, so I succumbed. But not entirely. I’ve been reading more and writing more. I think that’ll continue.

I’m hoping one of the things that will help with my writing life as well as my life life is an exercise in attention that I plucked from Lynda Barry’s completely brilliant book, Syllabus. She had her oh-so-lucky students keep daily diaries in a series of composition notebooks. Each diary entry has four elements: What did you do? What did you see? What is something you heard someone say? Draw a picture of something you saw. The whole thing should take only about 5 minutes to complete. I especially like the idea of doing this exercise at the end of the day rather than piece by piece throughout the day. This way it becomes about memory as well as observation and might act as a little meditation on my day before I go to sleep.

I’m going to give this exercise a month-long run. At the same time, I’m going to jump into a more serious writing/reading practice as part of an online writing lab I’m participating in. I will be busy. The TV and internet will be mostly off. See you in September.

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