Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping in Touch Tuesday: Keep Your Journal Resolution

“Words such as ‘always’ and ‘never’ are sure death for creativity.”~ Kevyn Aucoin

I have no scientific proof, but I’m going to guess that “Keep a Journal” is among the more popular New Year’s Resolutions. I’d put money on it being in the top five. And like most other resolutions, it’s as easy to break as it is to make. But it doesn’t have to be! I think what stops many people from seeing a journal through is having preconceived notions of what a journal should be rather than what it could be. I recommend doing away with preconceived notions—in journaling and in life.

Great Expectations
We have ideas about what everything should be. Here’s what a diet should look like. Here’s what I should look it. Here’s what my relationship should look like. And here’s what the process of journaling should look like. Each of those statements stands directly in the way of possibility. If you’re caught up in what something should be then you’ll miss what it could be. It could be something you look forward to rather than dread. It could be that you take the experience—whatever it may be—and make it your own.

Making it My Own
As a teenager, I started and stopped several journals. I’d get mad at myself if I skipped a few days, and I’d avoid picking the journal back up because I thought I had to recount everything that had gone on since the last time I wrote. The idea exhausted me, and so I stopped writing. I finally got the journal thing going when I removed all expectation. Is a journal something I have to write in everyday? Nope! Do I have to write lengthy entries detailing what I’ve been up to since the last time I wrote? Absolutely not! Can I write what I’m feeling at this very moment and that’s it? Of course. But can it be a long entry if I want it to be? Yes. Can it still be a short entry? I said yes already!

Somebody Please Tell Me What to Do
We humans like instruction. We like being told what to do (or we’re just used to it), and it’s hard to get out of that mind frame even when we’re doing something simply for ourselves. At some point, we all formed an idea of what a journal should be—making it easy to forget that your journal is your journal. If you only write in it once a month or once every six months no one else will know. It’s your journal. If you never once delineate the events of the day and always write about your feelings, or your cat, or your aversion to the color orange, it’s fine. I’m telling you it’s fine. I have eleven journals sitting on my shelf. Some years I write incessantly, and other years not so much. I have yet to discover if 2010 will be a journal year or not. I’m confident it will reveal itself to me. It’s my job to be open to all possibilities.

If you still can’t get the idea of a traditional journal out of your head, heres are some alternate suggestions:

The One-Sentence Journal – Sum up you day (your week, your month) in one sentence. Remember it’s okay if it spills into two or three or ten.

Pick Your Favorite Topic Journal - If everyday life can’t get you writing but a certain experience can, then keep a journal about it: book journal, travel journal, restaurant journal, wine journal.

Quote Journal – If you love inspiring quotes (as we here at Tranquility du Jour certainly do), then consider carrying a small notebook around with you and write down the sayings that strike a special cord within you. Re-reading these quotes on a down day will lift you right back up.

Samara O'Shea is an author and professional letter writer. Visit her Web site LetterLover.net and follower her on Twitter.

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purplepaperplanes said...

I completely identify with your experience as a teenager. I was exactly like that as a kid- I used to but didn't love the idea of recounting exactly the happenings of the day..So I finally stopped doing that and just wrote when the mood struck and in any format I felt like- free verse, story etc. (though it *is* often amusing to read not just the thoughts but also the events in the life of a 10 year old..:)).

Looking forward to your posts!


Old-Fashioned Girl said...

Thanks Lavanya! It's always nice to meet someone else with a unique name. Glad to have you with us.