Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Journal! Who, me?

I have read, avoided reading, saved, and deleted countless articles on why and how to do regular personal journaling.

But, despite promises of more happiness, creativity, productivity, and becoming a better person, I could not get myself to try it.

The sources of my resistance: 
  • The recommendation to do it every day - yikes! Except for brushing my teeth, not my strength.
  • I already have writer's block (the evidence: 25 blog posts since 2011). Why would I want to have yet one more type of writing to avoid?
  • Directives to use a particular format or write about particular topics. I don't like being told how to do things. I prefer bespoke productivity tools, even if I end up creating something that looks very much like a method I rejected.
  • And of course, how would I find the time...

Then about a month ago, out out of the blue, I started to journal most days. I liked it.  I'm here to tell you how I am doing it so you can try it too.

Now that I'm doing it, I get it. The promised benefits are showing up.

Made up sample journal entry.

If you are interested, this the way I started :

(You can do this at any time of the day. I do find that morning works best for me.)

  1. Find a piece of paper. Although for this idea you probably want to save the paper, so a bound notebook would be good. (Or a digital app - I use Evernote.)
  2. Put the date at the top of the page. Maybe the time as well.
  3. Write at least one sentence, about anything that comes to mind.
  4. Stop or keep writing, whichever seems right at that moment.
  5. Do it again later that day (on the same page) or tomorrow or whenever the fancy strikes (on a new page).
I intentionally did not include advice about what you should journal about. 

Instead, I use a "no topic rules" approach:  Whatever pops into my head gets recorded. If I stick with it for another minute or two, inevitably more ideas emerge.

These are the categories that often show up, and the "results" that I often get:
  • Thoughts about a problem I am dealing with; sometimes solutions emerge.
  • Ideas for something I am writing.
  • The progress I am, or am not, making on a project or goal which usually is followed by ideas about how to move forward.
  • Frustrations about the state of the world.
  • Experiences for which I am grateful and things that are going well.
  • A plan for dinner.
If you want to read more about journaling, try these:
  • Julia Cameron's The Artists Way. Originally published in 1992, Cameron's method set the standard for personal journaling.

1 comment:

  1. This is the closest I've been to actually considering journaling!