Journals and diaries

As mentioned back in February, I’m trying to work on being better at keeping a diary/journal. I live a fairly solitary life (I live alone and all of my family/most of my friends live far away), so it’s nice to have place to jot down thoughts, work through problems, and reflect on life. In order to work on developing the habit of writing something (anything) every day, I had a three tiered system: a daily Q&A journal, a daily planner that I used as a short-form diary, and a regular journal/sketch book. It sounds really complicated, but it was the perfect way to get used to daily writing and to remind myself that I don’t always have to write about something that happened that day: the Q&A diary gave me something random to consider; the  planner had limited space, so it didn’t feel overwhelming; and, the regular journal was a good place for when I needed to write out more.

A couple weeks ago, I started writing in my regular journal more often. I realized that I had started to become frustrated with the limitation of the small planner – I could mention something, but would have to find a bigger space to elaborate. I also started to get frustrated with the daily Q&A diary – either the question had no relevance to me or it, again, left me wanting to elaborate.

I don’t want this to become a frustrating chore, so I decided to adjust and re-invent before I started to hate the process. So this is what I’m going to do:

  1. The daily Q&A diary: I’m going to stop using this as intended. It’s an interesting idea and I think that a lot of people would really enjoy this, especially as you circle back through the questions 5 times, giving you an interesting look back over the past 5 years (or more – you could use it every couple years for a more long term project). But, as I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, I’m just going to keep it for inspiration. When I want something to journal about, I can use the question (and, if I’d already done them, my answers) as inspiration for that day.
  2. The planner: This isn’t enough room to reflect on my day, but it would be a good gratitude or happiness journal. I’m very good at being grumpy and not always very good at remember the good things in my day, so I will use this to note any thing that brightened my day. I’ve decided that I will commit to writing something (even just one tiny thing) in it each day – booking tickets to an exciting vacation, pretty sunsets, or simply that I can afford a roof over my head. I know some days will be hard, but those will be the days that I will have to remind myself of all the good in my life.
  3. The regular journal: This will be my new daily thing. If I haven’t got anything to say, I can use the questions from the Q&A diary or interesting quotes as inspiration. I’m not going to force myself to write pages and pages and pages, but I am going to make myself “check in” daily and allow myself the space and time to write as much as needed when I’m in the mood.

I think this is going to be a really good way for me to keep journaling and for me to get things off my chest when I need to. I found that I really liked to reflect on interesting questions or interesting things that I hear or read. A number of my journal entries in the past week started with an interesting quote. Sometimes I would talk about how I agree/disagree and other times I would talk about how it connected with my life (ex: last night I started with a quote about being present and reflected on how I’m not very good at pulling myself away from the happy memories of the past, which makes it hard for me to find contentment in the present).

Keeping a journal/diary isn’t for everyone, but I enjoy it and I’m glad that I’ve been able to develop the habit and find a way that works for me.

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