One year ago this week, I stepped way out of my comfort zone and put out my very first blog post!
Even though I never saw myself as a writer, I somehow became one. I’ll probably never publish a book (though never is a dangerous word to say because God seems to take that as a challenge), but through the simple act of putting words down and sending them out into the world each week, I am, indeed, now a writer.
If you’ve been with me on this journey since the beginning, you might remember that, in that first post, I talked about all of the benefits of journaling. If you missed it, go back and take a look. (Also, no judgment from me if you want to refresh your memory because you read it but have forgotten everything I said. It’s still there and worth a read.) So, how’ve you done this last year?
Am I still journaling?
Surprisingly, yes. Given my history with journaling, it wouldn’t be out of character for me to have gaps of whole months or even years between entries, but I’ve actually kept up with it.
I’m now on my third journal since this time last year. (Before you get too blown away, I should admit that the first one I started on was already halfway full, and I’m only a few pages into the third.)
Of course, I still don’t write every day. It feels too forced and structured. One of the things I hated most about school was having to write papers when I had nothing to say, and forcing myself to write every day feels like a school assignment.
However, hardly a week goes by where I haven’t written at least two or three entries.
What do I journal about?
I journal about any- and everything that pops into my head.
There are thoughts and reflections about everything from current events (and weren’t there enough of those this last year!) to my feelings.
When Dante (my dog of 13 years) died in October, my journal gave me a place to process my grief and record all of my feelings and memories of him. He is now immortalized in the pages of my journal, and I’ve been able to mourn him in a healthy way.
I also outline my blog posts in my journal as the ideas come to me. There are two types of writers: pantsers, who just start writing with no plan, and outliners, who have to at least sketch a rough plan before they start putting pen to paper. I’m definitely the latter. Otherwise, I forget to include half the things I wanted to.
Then, there are pages of random notes, ideas that came to me that I didn’t want to forget. I have lists of thoughts and plans, recipes and cooking tips I want to try, interesting or inspiring quotes, books I want to read, and anything else that occurs to me.
There are even a couple of sad attempts at short stories, but we’re not going to dwell on that.
I even made a couple of attempts at structured journaling. Some people swear by gratitude journaling, where you list five things you’re grateful for every day. I also considered guided journaling and journal prompts. There are a number of products out there if that kind of thing appeals to you, but it all feels too much like a school assignment to me. So, I just write when I feel the urge, and so far, it’s worked for me.
What has kept me going?
I credit two main things with why I’m still journaling with such frequency after a whole year: this blog and keeping my journal close at hand.
I’ve set myself the task of publishing a blog post every week. But if I just sit myself down in front of the computer, my mind goes blank. So, I keep my journal nearby, especially when I’m at my day job and doing mindless tasks. That way, when an idea comes to me, I can jot it down real quick or even sketch out a rough blog-post outline in the moment. Otherwise, by the time I get home, I’ve forgotten I even had an idea, much less what it was.
Also, this past year, I’ve made a conscious effort to read more nonfiction and focus on personal development. All of this pondering has given me more things to record and a greater need to write things out so I can clarify my thoughts.
The last thing that has kept me going is that the next journal will be beautiful and exciting. I love the journals I’ve been working in, but this Christmas, I asked for and received a couple of gorgeous leather-bound journals. By itself, having a pretty book to write in isn’t enough to keep me going, but it sure doesn’t hurt.
What about you?
Have you done much journaling this last year? We’ve all certainly had enough going on in our world that’s worth recording.
Even if you didn’t, remember, it’s not too late. And it gets easier the more you do it. (I’ve even started using paragraph breaks in case I ever want to go back and read it. I don’t have to use any code; I’m pretty sure no one will ever be able to decipher some of my early ginormous blocks of chicken scratches.)
Rebecca has a passion for helping you fill the world with great literature and making sure said literature doesn't get passed over for the lack of a little editing.