1. This is a visual exercise, too. Consider that another will feel the "heart beat faster" upon simply seeing your work.
2. You can update your visual work and writing for the 21st century reader. Just remember that these messages are emblems of your taste and that you possess all the confidence of Heian courtier in your ability to judge what is pleasing, hateful, proper, distressing, and charming.
3. Include writing in your pillow book. This can be a poem, a list or a short anecdote or all three. Your creation of the courtier can be one who is lucky in love or feeling out of sorts, happy over a marvelous event or angry about a rival's trick. You choose the tone.
4. There is no length requirement. Who would dare to set limits for one of these Heian arbiter's of taste and romance?
Samples of Sei Shônagon's work below:
While entertaining a visitor, one hears some servants chatting without any restraint in one of the back rooms. It is embarrassing to know that one's visitor can overhear. But how to stop them?
A man whom one loves gets drunk and keeps repeating himself.
An ignoramus who in the presence of some learned person puts on a knowing air and converses about men of old.
Lying awake at night, one says something to one's companion, who simply goes on sleeping.
Surprising and Distressing Things
A child or grown-up blurts out something that is bound to make people uncomfortable.
All night long one has been waiting for a man who one thought was sure to arrive. At dawn, just when one has forgotten about him for a moment and dozed off, a crow caws loudly. One wakes with a start and sees that it is daytime--most astonishing.
Things That Give a Hot Feeling
The hunting costume of the head of a Guards escort.
A patchwork surplice
The Captain in attendance at the Imperial