Even if you have nothing to write about, write!

I once heard that Cicero exhorted others to write even if they didn’t feel that they had anything to write.

This is a particularly relevant and resonant exhortation for a daily blogger and lifelong writer of journals and letters.

Today I looked for the context of this quotation and found this letter:

Quintus Cicero to Tiro

I have castigated you, at least with the silent reproach of my thoughts, because this is the second packet that has arrived without a letter from you. You cannot escape the penalty for this crime by your own advocacy: you will have to call Marcus to your aid, and don’t be too sure that even he, though he should compose a speech after long study and a great expenditure of midnight oil, would be able to establish your innocence. In plain terms, I beg you to do as I remember my mother used to do. It was her custom to put a seal on wine – jars even when empty to prevent any being labelled empty that had been surreptitiously drained. In the same way, I beg you, even if you have nothing to write about, to write all the same, lest you be thought to have sought a cover for idleness: for I always find the news in your letters trustworthy and welcome. Love me, and good-bye.

I love this idea: Write just to show your alertness to reality. Write just to prove you are really awake and alive.

Sketching Memories

On my iPhone, I have 33,250 photos.

Yesterday, when reading Janusz Korczak’s Ghetto Diary, I came across a section in which Korczak is conversing with a well-known painter who says to him:

“Everyone should know how to sketch in pencil what he wants to retain in memory. Not to be able to do that is to be illiterate.”

I read this sentence over and over again, and thought about it. I have 33,250 photos on my phone and only one of them is, in fact, an image of something I sketched in pencil.

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