I have to preface this guest post with the information that I have a pile of journals from when I was younger with a couple of pages written in and the rest empty. I think I had the idea that I needed to start with a new book each time I felt recommitted to writing in a journal. That I still struggle with journal writing is evidenced by the fact that it is my New Year’s resolution…every single year. I have obviously not got this down.
On the other hand, despite my recognition that I need to do better, I have to admit; I am more consistent than when I was a teenager. I fill my journals now, even if it does take a few years to do it.
I have found I write more regularly if it is a pleasant experience that I look forward to, rather than a chore. I have been writing in a beautiful book, handmade by Natalie Stopka with marbled silk covers. I use a fountain pen filled with ink in a color I love. It makes me happy to sit down with lovely things and write.
Besides being esthetically pleasing, I like my writing time to be psychologically painless. In other words, I keep my expectations for myself pretty low! I do try to write every day, but give myself permission to write about the mundane and to be, in a word, boring. I let myself be done after two or three sentences, rather than needing to fill half a page. I don’t stress out if my handwriting is less than perfect. If I expected myself to be sparkling, witty and beautifully transcribed every day, I would just end up with more mostly empty journals.
The biggest turning point for my journal writing was hearing Henry B. Eyring talk about his great-grandfather’s journals and how much they meant to him. He pointed out that his great-grandfather wrote nearly every day, but didn’t write much. A light bulb went off in my head. I didn’t have to be profound or eloquent. I could write a little bit about each day and the whole will end up being more than the sum of the parts.