Tuesday, 12 June 2012

On Writing A Journal

   I have written in a journal (or diary, it's really the same thing) ever since I received one for my 10th birthday. Not faithfully, I must admit. In fact I'm probably the last person who should be writing this post. There have been times where literally months have gone by without me so much as picking up my diary. But I've always gotten back into writing. I don't know what it is, but there is something so wonderfully compelling about writing out my hopes, dreams, successes, failures, and memories, so they will always be remembered... my life: a little part of history...
   I see journaling as three things:
  1. recording history for future generations
  2. a way to clear my thoughts - journaling seems to put things in perspective for me
  3. an exercise in writing
   In only a few more days I will have filled up the last pages of my sixth diary. I want to share with you some of the things I have learned over the last several years about keeping a journal. I hope to make your journaling experience more enjoyable than I hope it already is. I know not everyone encounters the same obstacles when they are writing in their diary or journal, but I hope my tips help you out - even just a little.

1. Don't feel as though you have to write about something.
   I would have to say this is the most important tip I have to give you. I've had so many times when something has happened in my life and I've thought 'oh, I should write about this in my diary!' But then I didn't have time, and events to write about started to accumulated. Eventually I would simply procrastinate, because I really didn't feel like writing about everything that had happened to me. Writing in my diary became more of a chore than an enjoyment.
   Rather recently I realized I don't have to write everything that happens to me. (Honestly, you'd think it would be sort of a no-brainer.) I find it very hard to find time to write about everything, and no one except me is going to care if I skip over an event. When I feel I should write about something and don't want to I ask myself if it is really important. Most of the events in my life no one will ever realize even happened, unless it's my wedding - and I need to find a boyfriend before that happens ;) . If you ask yourself this, and still feel you must write about an event, but you'd rather not write about it in great detail, try to provide a summary instead, with some parts that you found interesting or special. (For instance: I had my graduation last month. My grad dress was red and I absolutely loved it. AA looked very spiffy and BB look very pretty in her dress. CC cleaned up nicely too. I didn't realize XX was graduating, and it was a pleasant surprise to see her :) The whole event was very lovely, and afterwards I had some family and friends come over to help me celebrate.). If you try my suggestions, but you still feel the need to write about everything, you could limit yourself. For instance, write only about what has happen the previous week, the past three days, or the last 24 hours.

2. Write about anything. (don't forget to keep my previous tip in mind!)
   When I write in my diary I write about anything that comes to mind, from what I ate when I went out for dinner the previous evening, to my deepest hopes and fears. I write about events that have affected me, and I record world-recognized catastrophes. A few 'letters', to God and to no one in particular, have made themselves comfortable between the pages of my diary, as have a couple 'poems' I've thought up, some prayers, and even a few lists. I also find, personally, that when my mind is racing about something that is troubling me, the very best thing I can to is sit down and write it out in my diary. Somehow doing this seems to put things into proper perspective, and helps me to think straight.
   You could also write out your favourite quotes (I have a separate book for that), stick in your best recipes, or write out short stories. If you travel, you could add details such as how far you traveled that day, or what time you arrived at your destination. Your journal is the story of your walk through life. Anything that affects you is just another beautiful addition to your own special story.

3. If you find yourself short on time schedule in 10-15 minutes at the end of your day. 
   I don't know about you, but I live a very busy life. I find it very difficult to make time to write in my diary. I have discovered that the few minutes of pause ate the end of my day are the very best for remembering what has happened during the day, and for collecting my scattered thoughts. It helps my brain to slow down enough for me to fall asleep.
   If you are not at all a night person, you might want to try writing in your diary during the few minutes before your day starts. If you hit the day running, you could even try to wake up a few minutes earlier. I recommend one of these time slots, but if that just isn't possible, you could try to set a specific time every day where you sit down and take a moment to write in your journal and pause from your busy schedule. Do you usually eat lunch by yourself? Bring your diary along. Don't worry if you miss a day, a week, or even a month (although, that is what we are trying to avoid... ) You can always pick it up again. If you have a time scheduled in, set aside for this one thing, you will be more likely to write in your diary faithfully.


4. Add flair and colour. (This isn't so much a tip as a suggestion)
   A few months ago I was getting very inspired by my favourite blogs, and I really wanted to start my own blog. I knew, however, that I would never have enough time to write a blog and still spend the necessary amount of time on my piano and school. And of course I wasn't going to blog instead of having a social life. Starting up a blog at that point would have been foolish. So instead I decided to bring a little colour into my diary. I've used colourful scraps of paper, I've torn out blank pages from old notebooks, and one page is written entirely on stickey notes. After I went snowboarding at Blue Mountain ski resort this past winter I attatched both the the resort map and my day pass to my journal. Recently I pressed a lilac between the pages of my diary, and now it smells like a dream. You could also add newspaper clippings, magazine articles or comic strips, or write with colourful pens - really anything that interests you at the time.
   I find doing this just make journaling a little more fun. Now when I flip through the pages of my diary I am greeted by splashes of colour. Ordinary events I still write on ordinary journal pages, and the combination of normal and colour sort of highlights special events and thoughts.
   This does take a bit more time, so I would not recommend doing this if you always find yourself short of time.

   I hope these tips and suggestions have been helpful for making your journaling experience just that much more enjoyable and interesting. Please feel free to let me know what you think, or if you have any other journaling tips!

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