I love going behind the scenes and seeing the studio of an illustrator, or the desk of a writer, don’t you? I recently posted a behind the scenes of my own desk. These tiny pencils. One child calls his tiny pencils, “Legendary Pencils.” So that’s what they are from now on: my Legendary Pencils.
What other tools do you count on? I love Moleskines—big or small. Soft or hardcover. I don’t mind. But they must be squared not lined.
But there is one tool that I count on every single day. It’s invisible. And indispensable. It is the most important one of all.
“Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost.”
― Henry James, The Art of Fiction
That is my goal every day. To be one on whom nothing is lost. How about you?
So here are some tips on things that help me stay open to wonder.
I keep a notebook and pencil on me at all times. To write down anything I might hear. Ideas that might arrive—so I can catch them before they fly away. (You think you’ll remember but mostly you don’t.)
I practiced this recently while researching Look! I Wrote a Book! My niece told me a story about a daddy who lost his children and didn’t know where they were. He looked everywhere, and fortunately he found them. They were in the cupboard. I listened and laughed and wrote it down. And it made its way into the book (in the part demonstrating what makes a good story). Other times, I’ll hear a child on the street or on the bus. I listen to them — what they’re talking about. And listen for how they say things and how they put sentences together. And I write it all down. It keeps me open to wonder and to their world.
And I keep a camera on me, too. Someone asked a professional what is the best camera to have? They replied: the one you have on you. I subscribed to that. The iPhone is mine. I have it at the ready. (Professional photographers even use it because the iPhone camera is so great.)
Then I keep my ears open, my eyes peeled. It’s like going on a treasure hunt. Following clues. Looking for the beauty wherever I go. Being wherever I am. Noticing. Being grateful.
I call it my wonder work out.
(It’s actually why I love Instagram. It’s the discipline of looking and noticing and sharing something beautiful every. single. day. I think at its best Instagram can be a community sparking wonder and gratitude.)
Little children are experts at wonder. Is it because they have a right-sized view of themselves? That they are newer to this incredible world? I think this quote says it best:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
― G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
And the thing about wonder—it sparks gratitude. Or is it the other way around?
“Heaven lies about us in our infancy.” ― Wordsworth
It’s all around us, too. May we have the eyes of a child to see it.
All power to our legs and eyes and ears as we do our wonder work outs!
Tools That Help Me Spark Wonder
It’s all personal preference, of course, but I adore squared notepaper–not lined paper so much. I do not know what this says about me. Probably I prefer nothing too important and official and permanent looking and that this makes me feel playful. And since I don’t love the idea of having to fit inside lines, the squares also keep me playful. When I write on squares, it’s like the writing isn’t insisting it needs to become anything. I am just making notes. I don’t feel performance anxiety. I stay loose and playful. So I love these Moleskine Notebooks.
I only ever do my first early drafts in pencil. Probably for the same reason as I love square notebooks. It doesn’t insist that it’s anything other than just scribbling. (They also must have an eraser on them—for the same reason. So nothing seems too permanent.) These are my go to favorites (I may even have written LOOK! I WROTE A BOOK! with one of these very ️pencils).
Essential. Especially for the tiny pencils. It has two blades to get the pencils very, very sharp. Sharpness is key. And I carry this on me in a pencil case at all times so I can resharpen on the go.
And speaking of Pencil Cases… here’s one I love — simple and long enough to fit a Blackwing Palomino pencil or three and a sharpener.
DEFINITIVE RESOURCE on HOW to WRITE a BOOK
When I’m looking for writing resources, here’s the very first place anyone should turn. It may very well be the very best book on the subject in the entire world: Look! I Wrote a Book! OK. I’m kidding. (But I SO love what The Wall Street Journal said: “A story-telling anatomy lesson masquerading as giddy fun.” Thank you Meghan Gurdon for your stellar review.) Seriously though, there are a few other good Books on Writing, that I love, too.
What are your favourite tools? Show me on Instagram, and #sallylloydjones