Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Quick Word... On Journals

Ever tried to keep a journal? I bet you have. I bet you've been given or bought notebooks and gone Yes, I will definitely use this.

And so, after a few nights ponderance you sat down and started putting the pen to paper, and you discovered that you pretty much had nothing to say. If you weren't recounting boring things that happened at school, you were older and recounting boring things that happened at work. And you were tired now and just wanted to go to sleep, and you made a mistake and now you've wrecked the whole thing and it was the nicest book ever and... ARRRGGGGHHHHH.

Three nights later your journal meets the back of the cupboard.

I know. I've been there. Once to overcome it I decided to try and keep a journal on the computer. The file was password protected, and that way I could edit it however I liked and the mistakes or boring parts could be cut out. My brother kept on telling me all the things I had written in there, and for a while I kept changing the password, trying to work out how he'd gotten in. It turns out there is no password secure enough to stop people sneaking up behind you and reading over your shoulder. Who would've thought?

Then I read horror writer Joe Hill's prescription for journal keeping. The problem with most of us you see, is that we're too ambitious. We want to keep our entire thrilling life story in a single book which catalogues everything we do. If we start here, Joe says, it's pretty easy to fail. Joe keeps no less than eight journals. One of which you might have already. Ever consider that your Facebook or Twitter is a journal? It is though, right? And yet somehow you've managed to keep it going... Why is that?

The trick is keeping it real and small. Joe's eight diaries each capture one piece of him. I've stolen three of his ideas, and have just started books cataloguing everything I read, everything I watch (films and complete series), and three great memories from each day. This last one is the best I think. Instead of writing out your day in full, why not just capture in a single sentence each the three best things? It'll be enough to remember them if you do decide you want to write your magnum opus of a memoir later, and more importantly, it's actually achievable in the five minutes before you go to sleep.

Joe has heaps of other great ideas, which I will probably nab later if these go well. If you've always wanted to keep a journal of some kind and failed though, check his blog post out. The trick it seems is to start small, make it achievable, and build the project up from there. Only do what you have time for. If you try for more you've already failed.

Happy journaling folks.

picture credit: basykes

1 comment:

  1. "Yes, I will definitely use this."

    Lol. Yes, that's what I thought too when I bought myself a nice leather journal in December of last year. Turns out that it can be done!

    I have actually written in it every day this year.