I suck at keeping a journal. I’ll get one as a gift from someone and the cover is beautiful, the blank pages look all inviting, and I make a new resolution to write in this one. “This one won’t be like all the others. I’m really gonna write in this one,” I tell myself. I write in it every day for about two days and then the entries drop off. A few weeks go by before another entry. Then a few months. Then a year or so. Then I just give up.
I recently unearthed one of these past books (mostly blank of course) and started this cycle all over again, but a little differently. I’ve decided to stop being so nice and neat with it. That doesn’t really sound like a big deal, but I’m probably one of the most organized, neat people in the universe, so it’s a big deal to me to let go and not think about sentence fragments, run-ons, paragraph structure, or in general if my entry will make any sense. It’s also been hard for me to break out of the conventional journal entry and feel like it’s ok to include sketches, doodles, scribbles, stickers, programs from events, to-do lists, pressed leaves, rubbings, etc. Keeping these things in mind has been so completely freeing, both to my mind and my personality, and has helped me to really value my journal time and get something meaningful out of it.
But what has helped me the most in my new commitment to writing every day was this post about keeping a logbook. Nothing too detailed, just a simple, no-frills list of daily events. I’m not just limiting it to the list though, so when there’s something I really want to expand on I do. And I also have taken time for traditional journal-type entries as well, but I enjoy keeping a log of my day. I’ve always felt that my journal entries should distill meaning from my thoughts, activities, or things in my day, and maybe that’s why I always give up on writing them: I can’t always attach some deep meaning to what’s going on in my head. It takes some of the pressure off just to list what I did. And I can always write more if there’s more meaning behind it.
I do have to say it’s really helping. At least for the last 39 days (!) I’ve been able to keep this going. And that’s definitely a record for me. Also, this journal is exceptionally pretty, so I don’t mind carrying it around. And it smells nice. I’ve never had a journal before that’s smelled nice.
My journal is now a completely messy but well-loved and essential part of my life. I like to think of it as the ONLY place that chaos and mess exists for me. Something to strive for, right?