February 19, 2008
Here is Part One…
One goal of mine in using journaling software is to journal on a more consistent basis. One of my best friends is a dedicated "journal-er" and I see daily the insights that she gleans from taking that time to reflect on her experiences and thoughts. Unfortunately, I have an on-again, off-again relationship with my journal. I will sometimes go for months without an entry. I find that the busier I get, the more my journal gets sidelined. That makes sense, right? However, those busy, productive (sometimes traumatic) times are the ones I most want to record and dissect. When I do get back to it, I often feel as though I need to catch up. This creates more stress and really nuetralizes the benefit of journaling in the first place.
So, what am I doing to build the habit? By focusing on three minor changes, I am revamping my personal writing experience.
1- Guard the Quiet. I do my best writing in the evening. Scott and I keep the house pretty quiet after the kids go to bed. We aren't big television people, so the only background noise we keep is usually some soft music. For some of you, the morning time or the children's quiet time works best and that is fine… do whatever works! The secret is turning off the noise, any noise. Even the clinking of zippers in the dryer can be distracting if you are trying to commit your thoughts and feelings to paper. Sit on the couch for a moment and listen. Can you turn off some appliances? Is the ringer off so you are not interrupted? Are the kids trained to stay in their rooms and keep to themselves for a set amount of time? By examining your environment, you'll see areas where you can reign in the distractions.
2- Have it Ready. I often have ideas come to me when I am doing housework or during school time with the boys. I keep a notebook on the kitchen counter where I jot down these thought triggers. I can then sit down in the evening with starter thoughts, rather than having to stare at a blank screen. (Hint: this also lets you maximize your quiet time, since it is often scarce and hard to come by:-) Another good idea is to keep your journal and favorite pens, along with any reading material you may find inspiring in one space (pretty cloth magazine racks are an attractive storage solution for this). This negates the need for a late night or early morning search for materials, which can be just discouraging enough for you to give up the good fight.
3- Freewriting. When I used a paper-based journal, I was as much aware of how I was writing as what I was writing. The beauty of The Journal software is that I don't have to self-edit as I go along. I have the security of knowing that the thoughts tumbling out of my head and onto the paper can be cleaned up nice and pretty when the time comes. Cut, Paste, and Spell-check are all my close friends. I find myself relying on this feature more and more as I test out the software. I really love the girly feeling that comes from a gorgeous leather journal, and I am a paper-lover in general, but having quality thoughts captured in an efficient way is really drawing me in.
The Web is full of terrific resources for developing your journaling habits. One I found this week (and you morning ladies will love it) is on the Write to Done blog. It is a quick and focused read, so I encourage you to check it out. Most of these habits can be applied to any time of the day. Remember, the quality of your journal comes from consistent interaction with it. I am taking on the challenge… how about you?