Confessions of a Mad Diarist

Some of the things I’ve thought or done concerning journal writing were, uhm, well just a wee bit on the crazy side, shall we say. With one exception, I’ve made all of the mistakes listed below.

Don’t assume your life is boring or not worth recording.

Yes, I once thought that only famous people wrote in diaries or journals. We “regular” folk would have nothing of importance to pass along. I’ve since found that often the most intriguing diaries and journals are those which were kept by the normal, everyday, next door neighbor type guy (or gal.)

What I’ve learned is just as each life is unique so is each life worthy of being recorded. A moment of thought will allow you to see that all people have days which are notable and others which can only be considered routine. Think of any high profile person and realize they face the same issues as any “ordinary” person. Food, shelter, personal relationships, work, play time and life’s disasters are all items of concern for everyone – yes, you, me and the other guy.

Another reason you know your life is not boring is because you have stories to tell. It might be about the unique circumstances of your birth, the singular first meeting with your intended, the “different” location of your upbringing, the chance meeting of a celebrity, the laudable way you tossed the winning ball or even the particular way you stumbled across the wrong goal line. If you’ve ever said in a conversation, “that reminds me of . . .,” you have a story to tell. And, truth be told, you are the only one who can tell your story.

Don’t compare your life or your journal writing experience to others.

When I first began to think of writing in a journal one of my dear friends showed me her collection of numerous journals begun when she was just a girl. Of course I took one look at her shelves covered with journal after journal and almost wilted. I could never catch up with that vast number of books. She must have seen the green in my eyes or the purple around my mouth, because she assured me that I was missing the point. The goal isn’t to have the most journals. The goal is to get the most from your journals.

And, the cliché is true. We find that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. Me thinks it is a trick of the light. :) Someone close to me recently shared a story about how her friends confessed to her one late night that she was a difficult friend. She was devastated by their confessions. They told her that it was hard to be around her because she is so perfect. She has a great sense of humor, a fantastic ability to stand in front of large crowds getting her point across as they laugh and learn, a beautiful home always neat and clean, a wonderful husband, three talented children, a lovely wardrobe, beautiful hair, a pretty face, a very nice body, a job she loves, a large and growing stash of completed journals, the list goes on.

Because I’m close to her, I know that she has a problem keeping her spending under control, a problem getting her hair to cooperate on a daily basis, a problem with a couple of her children behaving poorly, a problem with . . . Well, you see what I mean. Her friends only think she leads a charmed life.

As for her journals, I don’t know what they contain (not my business) but I bet they are reflective of life’s good as well as life’s bad moments.

Don’t stop growing in your journal writing skills.

Like so many others, my original idea of journal writing was that I would use it to write about the day’s happenings. That is still a part of my journal. Then, I learned that it was alright to copy some things down in my journal. I could pray in my journal. I could write my grocery list in my journal. Then, wonder of wonders, I discovered I could use my journal as a planning space for meeting my goals. I had no idea when I first began writing that my journal would be useful. I thought of my journal as more of a task to be completed for some unknown “good for you” reason. What I discovered was that I needed to learn ways to make my journal writing more interesting and useful for me.

What I’ve learned is how to incorporate the science of goal management and the art of skill building in my journal. I know how to tell my story in intriguing ways. I’ve tried different styles and methods of journal writing which help me become better at the intrinsic skill. I’ve used various ways of using my journal to improve my business and personal life. My growing journal writing skills have put me in the driver’s seat.

I’ve learned I can steer my  journal in ways which enhance my entries as well as my life.

Don’t set a goal too high concerning keeping a journal.

Here is something I learned from others before I made the mistake. If you have just decided to start writing in a journal or diary it is not a good idea to purchase a 5 year honking blank book. Just looking at all those empty pages often proves overwhelming. After 3 or 4 days of writing many people look at the small amount of headway made and the large number of pages ahead and simply give up. There is just something about putting yourself in a position to have a guilt trip over that nasty little empty page book that is so unappealing.

Another goal which I discovered can be overwhelming is that of writing in a journal every single day no matter what else is going on. I know some people do and I admire them for their heroic efforts. Truth is, I’ve tried really hard to do the same. I was like so many other people who decide to write every day and then I found that life had somehow gotten in the way. I would miss a day or two (or a week or more) and then feel like a great big failure.

What I have found since that time is my relationship with my journal does not suffer when we have times apart. I’ve also found that we are seldom apart because we have so much fun together.

As a lover of words, pens, paper and the dictionary I'm a natural for journal writing. But, I wasn't always faithful to the task and had to learn the hard way. Some trial and error as well as input from my journal writing friends helped move me along. I have a burning desire to help people who want to use and get the most out of their journals and diaries. I see journal writing as a self improvement tool and a way to avoid costly mistakes, bad relationships and my stinky-self. Finding my kindly self is part of the journey which keeps me writing. I Journalate and so can you.

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