From “do what you can” to “I cannot wait to do this”. I am actively journaling again and I love it!!! I have eased myself into a simple exercise of writing that is helping me and that I actually feel like reaching out for several times a day.
The recent silence online of my writer’s block and depression has been bothering me. But I did not feel good and did not have the capacity to force myself. I have given myself a lot of kind leeway lately so have not gotten a lot of other things done either. But I want to bring myself back. I cannot stay in that zone forever and stay gainfully employed and be a writer as I dream.
So what have I been doing? Procrastinating and moping a lot! But there is one bright light in all of this for me. I went back to the start of my journal and it started October 10th. That means I have managed to retain this habit for more than a week! Determining that made me feel so good. I have gone down this road before and faded in a variety of ways: bullet journal, planners, weekly activity charts, journal apps, writing fiction and non fiction, and all sorts of media.
Here is what is working for me now:
- Pencil and a small notebook! Above computers, using a pen, and definitely better than typing on a phone, this is my preference. Choose whatever makes you feel like the flow of writing is not stamping out your thoughts. My hand does get tired so I need to build the writing stamina but still this is the method for me.
- Sometimes all I wrote was that the last hour was unproductive, or I am annoyed at myself or I have nothing to write. Over time, even a week, I have noticed an effortless improvement develop in the quality of what I am noting down about my day and myself. Even when I was writing that nonsense, the physical sense of moving pencil over paper felt so good; it made me calmer and happier in the short run and improved my ability to write things down in the long run.
- There is no commitment or discipline involved. I like discipline but when I fail, it derails. Since I did not set any minimum commitment for writing frequency and none of what I document is a to do list, I haven’t gotten annoyed or felt disappointed because there was nothing to recognize as failure. I write when I can and whatever comes to mind. I miss some thoughts in between that would make good posts but if I keep this up, I will start capturing those more often too, I hope.
- I have not gone backwards and read anything I wrote. This has always helped me. Because sometimes I think why have I written this poor, pointless stuff and with writing pieces I also worry about quality. Eventually, I hope I will be more secure and set in this habit that going back and reading will just be informative and I can pull ideas out of rants and clean them up.
- A few times, I returned to my notebook only to write down that I cannot focus or get anything done. That was a big issue yesterday but frequency has decreased. I don’t like writing down that I did nothing so I work at something and make better use of the time between notes.
- Every entry starts with date and time. My one consistent complaint recently (and I am told it only gets worse with age) is that time is flying so fast. But since I have been noting down how I go about my day, time has slowed itself down. Okay, no but that would be nice; I could use more hours in a day. But seriously, I am more aware of minutes, hours and days passing. Each has stretched out in my awareness, which is really nice. I imagine meditating would make this even better.
- I didn’t want to put too much money into another effort I couldnt stick with. I have a free pencil from work and a ruled notebook from the dollar store. Easy.
- The notebook sits on my work desk. It stays there and, per my current routine of working from home, I am almost always near it. Yes, I do need to get out more. The accessibility helps me keep up the habit but I do not like taking it out and around with me (many times not practical). When I have a meetings day and I get home, I look forward to writing things down in it.
- I have to write down often because the vividness of the moments and thoughts fades fast for me. Especially the thoughts which I really want to document and explore as new ideas for my business or future posts.
- As I continue to feel less initimated by this exercise, I would like to delve more into the thoughts and events that might be the source of my depression. Before I can fix that, I need some brutal honesty on it for myself. Also, I do need to start making checklists and organize my chaos on paper without getting intimidated by it.
I really hope that I can keep up this habit and can see some of its lifestyle benefits materializing. I will keep you posted as this evolves. Please share any advice or your own experience with journaling.
- Keep it easy to maintain the habit.
- Write when I can and report some good progress to you in a month.
- Expand on the length and content of what I write. More about thought processes and events.
- Make room for reminders on things I need to do. Nothing to overwhelm. Just 1-2 critical items.
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