Colleen’s Third Rule for Writing

Be willing to write anywhere, anytime, in the quiet or in the noise.


Like right now, I’ve got the flu, I’m propped up in bed and I’m writing. A dog is barking, the rain is falling, and there is an odd feeling of peace, even though I don’t feel well, I am warm and comfortable.

But what I really want is for you to be inspired to write anywhere.

One of my favourite poems, Between Walls by William Carlos Williams, which you can read on The Poetry Foundation’s website HERE inspires me to write in a hospital. He was a physician who used to write his poems between patients on the back of his prescription pads. The constraint was that he had to be short and concise, however there is much meaning in this reading of his short poem.

I have written in a hospital before. I was angry about something and I needed to get it out. As I usually carry a pen and a notebook with me, I took them out of my purse and started writing.

I was in a waiting room, on hold for my turn to be seen. I was furious at people, and mad about my body which seemed to have rebelled against me, no control over others and my own body provided a great catalyst for nothing short of rage.

As I was writing down all of my gunk, three nurses wheeled a person out of double-doors and stopped near me for a few minutes. I observed all of the wires, cords, and tubes seemingly going in and out of the patient. This person just seemed to be hooked up, plugged in, and it looked serious.

It was in that moment that I realized that what really mattered in life was not my anger, even though it was healthy anger at all that seemed unjust to me at the time, and I was going to write it out, until I noticed that what mattered was whether or not that person was going to make it out of the hospital again, and if that person made it out, what shape he or she would be in.

I wanted Jacob Marley and one of his ghosts from A Christmas Carol to show me what really mattered. What real problems look like. I became more humble, more grateful for what I had, the people who mattered and stuck by me in my difficult time, the people who were good to me, my immediate family, my best girlfriend. My ability to come and go from that hospital in that moment is what mattered. And I wrote about it.

I will always write in a hospital, I’ll always be willing to write there in the peaceful moments and in the noisier moments. My surroundings shape me and my writing.

Once again, Be willing to write anywhere, anytime, in the quiet or in the noise.


2 thoughts on “Colleen’s Third Rule for Writing

  1. Just write. Everywhere and at any time. And remember, sometimes writing isn’t putting words down on a page, it is watching and absorbing.
    Sounds like even though you don’t feel well, your brain is in the right space to create.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment Dale.

      I like to listen in on people’s conversations in public. I find that people reveal some of the juiciest and personal pieces of information and I just can’t make up what they say. So I adopt conversations and adapt the words – this is a nice way of saying be careful what you say in public or a writer may put it into a book.

      Yeah, I can’t seem to remember when Christmas Eve is when making family plans, but I can write, but sometimes, “Oh, my brain!”


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