jusummerhayes (jusummerhayes) wrote,

Keeping a diary

It seems dreadfully old fashioned -- keeping a diary -- but I’ve been writing one in the form of Morning Pages (see The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron) for nearly four years.

By diary-keeping standards that’s no time at all; but, trust me, as someone, previously, who never went near any form of record-keeping, that wasn’t in aid of my career, this is a big deal.

And why am I telling you this?

Because I want everyone to adopt a similar practice?

Not really.

Well, sort of.

If I’m honest I don’t really know, suffice to say that I remain convinced that writing, whether it be a daily diary, Morning Pages, a gratitude diary/log or any form of note is much more powerful than: (a) the words; (b) the action of writing; and (c) the habit.

As I wrote about the other day, I firmly believe that writing is transformative by dint of the level of enquiry that takes us beyond the endless internal chatter (which in my case is normally the genesis for the first few lines of my work) to something much more concrete. Also, if you’re troubled by the usual series of headaches -- how to be happy etc. -- it’s one sure way to move beyond the questioning mind to one that takes action.

Let me try to be a bit less obscure.

If you keep a diary or write something every day, my belief is that sooner or later you'll find either that you consign some or all of your angst to the bin marked ‘it’s not really that important [any more]’ or you distill down what ails you to one or two central questions that are a lot easier to deal with than the usual jumble of mixed-up material that we try to wrestle with whilst at the same time living a normal life.

In my case there are so many things I’ve worked out by writing about them. Not in the sense of achieving closure or full understanding, but enough to know whether it’s worth the mental energy to continue to ask the same question over and over without so much as a nod to an answer.

But let me give you a word or two of caution. You might find that in trying to understand what’s going on in your mind, you come to the same point as me and many others have reached:
Who (or what) am I?

To be clear, when you go deeper than asking how you might fix something, you find yourself asking, 'yes, but who is it that’s actually asking the question?'

But for now, and to keep things eminently practical, I would advise that you immediately write down today’s thoughts (or as many as time will allow) and do the same again tomorrow. See what emerges. You might like to go all fancy and buy a Moleskin and a nice pen but actually it makes no difference. It’s the act of writing that’s important not what you use. Even if pen and paper isn’t your thing, there are plenty of places you could try online to keep a journal. In my case, I use Penzu for its ease and functionality. I would say that typing is never quite the same as using a pen or pencil but it does allow for more accurate record-keeping.

Note: I know that I’m coming at you with lots of Things To Do but it’s important for me to share with you those things I think have the power to make the biggest difference in our lives. I know the label Little Big Things has already been taken by Tom Peters but that’s exactly what they feel like. The trick though is not to read about them but to apply them!


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