If any of you are like me, I tried to journal for years unsuccessfully. I can’t even count the amount of times I have been gifted a beautiful journal with blank lines just waiting to be written on. I always start with great intentions.
This time last year, my husband and I were preparing for him to leave for deployment. We have two small daughters, motherhood keeps me very busy, and with being a writer—my life sometimes feels ten times more than busy. My Major (that’s my hubby) gifted me with, yes, another journal! It was specifically for writers. It had author quotes in it and that old-world leather bound look with yellowing pages. I loved it! But . . . would I use it or would it be just another one mostly blank taking up shelf-space?
The BEST thing about this journal was that it wasn’t a journal! It was a DAY-TIMER! It reminded me of my Amish grandma’s journals that I used to help in my research when writing Seasons and that I see her still using. It was always a planner or a simple notebook, and she would just date it herself and write two-to-three sentences about her day. She still has a journal next to her hickory rocker and tries to document as many days as possible.
I know this is not a new concept. I had myself convinced that journaling had to be this big exploration into my psyche (some writers tend to be a little dramatic now and again [finger pointing at myself]). When I caught on that it didn’t have to be that way—it could be a simple as using a day-timer—I was intrigued.
Since we were headed into an unusual year for us with the deployment, I decided that I would try it—AGAIN. I didn’t make it a resolution or even a big deal about it. I just simply kept the day planner on my nightstand or even on my pillow to keep me reminded.
I’m happy to say that my 2012 day planner/journal is FULL. There have been a few days missed here and there that I actually go back and document at least what I was doing that day and if it was something significant I’d document perhaps what I was feeling. I usually do about three-to-five sentences a day. It’s amazing what pride you feel in being able to create a healthy habit after years of being unsuccessful!
I already go back to early months in the year and reflect on the goodness of God as He carried our family through the deployment. The happenings of my budding writing career that truly humble me. The beauty of how my precious daughters have grown make me melt. How wonderful will it be to look back years from now and see the fingerprints of God glaring back at me from these yellowing pages above any words I could ever write.
Here are my simple tips:
1. Start simple and use a day planner. Day planners are not for a play-by-play. You only have the space for the highlights or a few “facts.” This is so much less intimidating and so do-able!
2. Find a book that really suits your style. Do you like the vintage look or maybe an inspirational image or verse on the front? I find, for some reason, that having a journal that truly matches my personal style really helps me stay on track!
3. Don’t know what to say? Talk about the weather or what you ate that day or who you talked on the phone with. It may help you develop your own internal conversation or you never know that simple remark about something like that might give you a reference point for something else that day that might not have been important then . . . but later you may find some significance.
4. Put it on your pillow ready to go. You have to move it in order to get into bed! I have my pen inside and a book light clipped on it. My husband often goes to bed before me so I don’t want to turn on the big light, and having my journal ready for me is a huge benefit.
5. BE YOURSELF and don’t be intimidated. Go into it with an open mind, and your writing will follow. I didn’t go into every detail often with how I was feeling about the deployment—just enough to remind me when I reread what my day was like. OR, when I was having some health problems I started documenting very simple things in my journal daily that I could use as guideposts for what types of supplements and vitamins I needed based on how I was feeling over the course of time. Or maybe you could use it as a food journal; this, I’ve heard, can be very important with diet sensitivities or weight management. Just make it what YOU want it to be.
So, are you ready? Sure, January 1 was a few days ago, but that is no reason not to just jump in now and get started!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
YOUR TURN: What’s something you struggled with before finally accomplishing it then developing it into a natural habit in your life?