Why do I write daily? For me, it’s an itch that needs to be scratched. Journaling has become a daily habit, done in the early morning usually, as a way to organize thoughts and emotions and plan for the day, as best I can. Thirty minutes of quiet time, spent with myself, pays big dividends later in the day, I have found. I wonder why more people don’t enjoy this process.
For many people, writing is a chore, one to be avoided at all costs. I can relate to that, since I feel that way about mathematical exercises. Yet in a similar fashion to the satisfaction I feel when I finally stop procrastinating and balance my checkbook, writing to clear one’s mind can be surprisingly effective. Accept that you are the only audience to the page, and you may be surprised at what appears in print. It may be messy, but that’s the point – getting the tangle of emotions, ideas, and rogue thoughts into the light where you can consider, sort, keep and discard is an exercise worth doing. If the spirit moves, further drafts and refinements can proceed. Or allow the messy page to be enough, at least for the moment. If you are a perfectionist as I tend to be, simply allowing yourself permission to “leave it as is” may be a freeing experience as you begin a new journey of journaling. Let it take shape and see where it takes you. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Don’t resist the urge to record factual information, like the weather, events of the day, or conversations of note. But don’t feel constrained by those parameters either – allow your imagination some room to stretch and your words to flow freely. Find a “small moment” to write about – unpeel one event of the day, or one conversation, or a problem that you solved, and write about the “’aha moment” you discover at its core. Let the words tumble out of your pen or pencil without regard for grammar, punctuation or spelling in the first draft; not unlike exercising, the first attempts may seem labored, but will become easier with time and repetition. And the euphoric feeling of simply having started will energize you to try again. Remember – it’s a process and the journey is probably more important than the destination. Sketches, lists, notes and oddball phrases are all fair game – they may become nuggets of gold to be mined in future sessions. Perfection is not the goal; exploring the inner terrain comes first.
Will you write a best-selling novel, or make a million dollars as a published author? Not likely. But might you find satisfaction and even pleasure in looking back at your journal entries six months or a year from now? From personal experience, I can predict that you will. You may also uncover talents that you didn’t know you had, ideas that you want to pursue, thoughts that are worth sharing with others. What do you have to lose? Try it for a month, with as much regularity as you can, and your results may be revealing.