Borrowed, Learned, & Thought (or BL&T) is a weekly newsletter sent on Mondays. In every edition, I share a borrowed idea (quote, excerpt), a lesson learned from the previous week, and a thought starter heading into the new week. Learn more and subscribe here.
“When you organize your life and your mind—that voice in your head—you get very calm inside and you get more productive outside.”
Valerie Fitzgerald quoted in "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan, Dave Jenks [Book]
I'm currently reading Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison. I bought the e-book in 2016 and only made it 6% through. I'm not sure if there was a reason why I stopped reading, but I'm glad I jumped back in. It has been fun to apply tips from writing music to the writing I do here and on my website.
Below is a passage from the book that has been on my mind for the last few weeks:
"Two beings inhabit your body: you, who stumbles groggily to the coffeepot to start another day, and the writer in you, who could remain blissfully asleep and unaware for days, months, even years as you go on about your business. If your writer is anything like mine, “lazy,” even “slug” is too kind. Always wake up your writer early, so you can spend the day together. It's amazing the fun the two of you can have watching the world go by. Your writer will be active beside you, sniffing and tasting, snooping for metaphors. It's like writing all day without moving your fingers. If, instead, you waited until evening to wake your writer up, you'd float through the day alone, missing the wonderful worlds your writer sees. Old lazybones, meanwhile, would get up late and retire early."
After sending out my first newsletter in September, writing became part of my weekly routine. Then, through journaling, my morning routine. Then, through publishing to my website Monday to Friday, my daily routine. The main reason I started writing more was that I felt like I had to. I'll explain.
I initially started my newsletter to develop a weekly reflection habit. However, once I got going, there was a benefit I hadn't expected, becoming a more active participant in life.
Every week, knowing my newsletter is coming down the line, I seek out its content daily. Regardless of whether a situation works out or not, I look for understanding. Is there a lesson here? Is this worth exploring in my newsletter? Throughout the week, I make notes to myself to revisit later.
I read books, listen to podcasts, stream content, and interact with others like an explorer, hungry for discoveries, eager to find material for the Borrowed section of this newsletter. It is in this exploration where the dots connect. I build upon my notes and turn thoughts into more fleshed-out ideas, often revisiting materials I consumed years ago.
Earlier, I described this as becoming a more active participant in life, but as Pat Pattison puts it, I awoke the writer in me. Whether we write or not, we all have a writer within us.
There's the person that our friends, family, and peers see; then, there's the person, or voice, that lives within us. When we read, it's the voice we hear in our heads. When we're upset, it's the voice talking us through the situation. When we disagree, it's the voice pondering how to explain ourselves. When we have exciting news, it's the voice that decides who to call first.
Writing my newsletter opened a dialogue with my inner voice. It had been there all along, but I hadn't regularly acknowledged it. The more we interacted, the more there was to say. To further engage, I added journaling to my morning routine.
Journaling helped create a space for me to reflect and work through daily happenings, free of judgment. Like Pattison says, by waking up my inner writer first thing in the morning, they became even more active beside me throughout the day, "sniffing and tasting, snooping for metaphors."
Everywhere I looked was a new connection. At times, it could be overwhelming. It felt good capturing thoughts in my personal notes, but I was too curious to let them sit idle. Cue the Notes section of my website.
By agreeing to publish a new note every Monday through Friday, I'm constantly refining my process for shaping ideas. I look at these notes as a more polished, public version of my personal notebook, so the format is open-ended.
The greatest impact of all this writing is what it's taught me about myself and how I think. In many ways, writing is just deep thinking in disguise. By actively engaging with my inner voice, I've become more aware of how I unconsciously experience the world. This recognition has helped me improve my outlook, identify distractions, and ultimately, channel my thoughts more effectively to free up mental space.
These days, when I'm out for a walk or on a long drive, I'd like to think I'm no longer alone with my thoughts. You might say, I'm talking to myself, and I enjoy the dialogue.
Lesson? Everyone has an inner voice, whether we notice it or not. It's always with us, reacting to our experiences. Rather than let it linger in the background, we can engage it in conversation. When we do, we can rediscover our sense of self and explore new territory.
What is my inner voice saying right now? What is my response?