Storytelling // Journaling
I have an awful confession to make. Even though I've spent many years professionally and personally calling myself a "writer;" even though this practice is something I highly recommend, and sometimes require, my clients to do; and even though I own more fancy notebooks that I am comfortable admitting in a public forum, I am absolutely horrible at keeping any sort of consistent journal.
My on again/off again relationship with journaling began with my first lock-and-key diary when I had just started elementary school and continued until about six weeks ago. I would, quite frequently, start a diary, only to abandon it when I felt my words were inadequate to accurately describe the "truth" of what was going on in my mundane life. I don't know why this quest for precision was so important to little me, but it ultimately has ended in me lugging boxes full of partly used notebooks in cross country moves, because I cannot destroy the record of my first week of 10th grade.
However, I've always known that a daily writing practice was important, so I kept hacking away at it, a day recorded here, a vacation there. Then I began my coaching practice and found myself telling everybody about the importance of journaling - both in a professional and personal context. Why is this practice so important you might ask? Let me tell you:
Journaling allows you to see your own growth over time. If you are a small business owner, it's easy to become mired in the everyday drudge of work. A long term journal details your growth in your own terms.
The act of writing helps to process not only the events of the day, but the emotions that accompanied them, and can be helpful in working through stress, anxiety, and depression. (Check out this article in the Huffington Post about all the surprise benefits of journaling.)
If you're not interested in detailing your day, you can still benefit from a daily writing practice. Gratitude and meditation journals are super popular right now and many offer excellent prompts. (This list by Bustle includes some of my favorites.)
All too woo-woo for you? Never fear. Keeping consistent quick lists of quantitative metrics in your life or business can be an incredible tools for health and wealth. Feel sick after working out? A food and exercise journal can help pinpoint the cause. Wondering if your latest Instagram campaign was really a success? You can look at metrics all you want, but a quick list of followers gained/quality of dm's received/etc over several platforms in one place allows you to quickly and thoroughly process an overwhelming amount of digital information.
Not woo-woo enough? Creatives sometimes have their ideas and notes scattered across a thousand papers and platforms. By converging these ideas in a single journal, your ideas are all together and ready to be cherry-picked by you when it comes time to create!
For me, I've finally found what I hope will be, success in my own journaling practice. Here are the tools that helped me:
Rifle Paper Co.'s Five Year Journal - Yes, I am mildly obsessed with this company's gorgeous work and beautifully designed products, but this five year journal is truly spectacular. Not only is it a gorgeous object in and of itself, but it has one of the best designed layouts I've ever seen for this format. Curated lists of memories, special moments, books and films enjoyed, and goals reached fill the first few pages, followed by a simple numbered format with enough space to outline your day or record whatever information you'd like. Clean, simple, lovely - for the first time in my life I find myself looking forward to writing before bed.
642 Things To Write About by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto - When I need to get my creative juices flowing for a non-biz writing project, I dive into this book of incredible prompts. (I like to open it to a random page and just go for whatever catches my eye first.) Whether the prompt is as simple as a single word, "Parades," or a more complex scenario, "You have a time machine, but it can only go back in time two days, what would you change?" I always am challenged in new and unexpected ways. With room to write in the book itself, its great on its own or the perfect companion to that luxury notebook you've been eyeing.
When I'm really struggling with journaling, I turn to an old favorite of mine - the Mason Jar Journal. ("What is that, you weird hipster?" you might be asking.) I take a mason jar and some scraps of paper, I write something on the paper and pop it in the jar. Sometimes it's how I'm feeling in the moment, sometimes it's something I'm grateful for, sometimes it's a random or funny moment from my day. I put it in the jar and there it lives. I rarely look at it again, but it helps me get through spots where I feel stuck. (Search "Mason Jar Gratitude Journal" on Pinterest for more examples!)
Are you an avid journaler? Or is it something you struggle with? Come visit me on Instagram and let me know how you feel!