Question of the Day: Comedy shows, game shows, or reality shows?
In my last post, I discussed some good reasons to journal as well as the positives and negatives of using an online diary versus a print journal. Today I'll be going a bit more in-depth about the content of a journal and how-to's of journaling. It's not that it's a complicated process, and I am by no means saying these are the only things you should abide by while journaling, but if you're thinking about starting a diary and aren't sure of where to start, you've come to the right place. :)
What to Journal
Scenario #1: Today's your first day on job after New Year's....and your boss has just accepted your project proposal! Woohoo! But man....this proposal is a lot more work than you thought it'd be! In fact, by the time it's lunch break you're overwhelmed by the Post-It Note reminders scattered all over your desk and the stacks of papers that you'll eventually have to go through. Feeling half-insane, you trot to the nearest Starbucks and, while fishing for your wallet to pay for a third cup of coffee, spot that new journal your co-worker-pal Amy gave you this morning. It seems to beckon you with its leather "arms" like a friend.
What to Write About: Once you return to the table with that freshly brewed cup of Joe, you take out your journal and have this sudden urge to write in it. For the next twelve minutes, you scribble down an entire plan for your project proposal and a short schedule for the next month. You fill the pages with to-do's (personal and business-related) and lists of priorities and steps to be completed for the project. By the time your lunch break is over, you feel sooooo much better about what you need to do and, somehow, much less stressed. You leave the coffee shop with a smile on your face, feeling ready to conquer the day.
Scenario #2: Your sister asks to borrow your camera on her night out with friends. She looks hurried, so being the awesome person you are, you say of course and with a quick hug she grabs your beloved camera and zooms out the door. Three hours later, Sissy comes back and fesses up. In a moment of excitement while preparing to take a photo, she experimented with the buttons to find the last picture she took and accidentally deleted all of your prior photos. After an hour of yelling nonsense such as "Why couldn't you have been more darn careful?!" and "It's YOUR fault you got such a stupid, complicated camera!", you stomp off and slam your bedroom door behind you. A few pillows get abused, and a couple tears get shed. Then, you spot your trusty diary tucked neatly underneath your mattress. You almost yank it out and start writing furiously.
What to Write About: Sissy is SO dead meat. Why does she ALWAYS have to ruin everything?! She is so dumb, she can't even figure out a camera by herself. URGH! After writing a few more profane sentences (most of them being threats) and rereading them with a satisfied nod, you suddenly realize that...maybe this whole thing could have been prevented if you'd made her stay a few extra minutes to give her a short how-to on working the camera. Oh, the shock.
Scenario #3: After 34 years of working as a nurse at the local hospital, you're finally retired! Yay! At first, all this free time you have is nothing short of luxurious....it meant more time to visit the grandkids, be more active in your local Seniors club in town, and work on your vegetable garden. But after a while, you begin to feel like now that you're retired, there is no major purpose for you anymore... What are your goals now? Before, you woke up everyday knowing that you were meant to help people, to assist in saving lives at the hospital. That was your purpose. Now what?
What to Write About: You start to attend some counseling sessions to regain some perspective and insight. One day, your therapist suggests that perhaps you could try writing an autobiography. Yes!! How lovely. You'd always loved to write when you were younger, after all. That night, you take out a spiral bound notebook (the one left over from your grandson's school shopping) out of your drawer and begin to plan out the main events in your life and outline your autobiography. You list all the people who have changed you over the years, most of the being patients, and what they meant to you. Pretty soon, you spend everyday planning your life story in that little notebook of yours. There were significant stories from your past that even you had had buried deep down inside. A few months later, the first draft lies in front of you, ready to be edited for the first time. You take out a red pen, smile, and feel as though you are doing what you're meant to be.
How to Journal
Again, there's no right or wrong way to journal. But if you're starting for the first time and feel as though you need a bit of guidance, here are a few suggestions.
Where: Everybody has different preferences. I personally have to be in just the right spot at the right time to be able to journal and give my writing 100%. Sometimes, I prefer to be surrounded by people I don't know, say, at a coffee shop. Listening to conversations about other people's lives and seeing and feeling the bustle all around me somehow helps me reflect and contemplate better. Sometimes, though, I just want to be alone in the corner of my bedroom where everything is quiet. It just depends. Maybe you like to be near nature when you're writing? Take your journal to the creek or a nearby river. Or perhaps you need a lot of stuff going on for you to concentrate and start flowing. OR maybe you're like me and need to change it up a few times. Bottom line is, you don't need to have a set area where you should write. Go where you feel like going, depending on your mood. Walk the steps or bike the miles it takes until you find the right place where you feel like you can find your muse. Random locations for journaling include: the park, the bathroom, a tree house, on a train ride, on the roof of your house, in the dark under your blankets with a flashlight, Barnes & Noble.
When: It's hard to find time to write sometimes, thus it's easy to actually forget to write. The right time to write is similar to the right place to write: it's different for everyone. I actually get the most done at nighttime...I am a total night owl, which can get in the way of my sleeping but I compensate by taking frequent naps. :) If you don't mind getting up early though, try rising an hour earlier than usual. Watching the sun yawn and stretch its arms out and being greeted by the twittering birds is bound to give you some inspiration. Try to write a little bit everyday if possible, even if it's just a paragraph. You never know when you'll discover something about yourself that you hadn't known or realized before.
Remember....it's never too late to start a journal.