What do you do with your old journals? We had a lively discussion on this topic at our writer’s group meeting in December. Should we keep them? Hide them? Save them for all posterity or burn them? There were as many opinions and options as there were people in the group:
- “My old journals are hidden in a secret place that only my best friend knows. She’s promised that if anything happens to me like I die or I’m in a coma, she will get them and burn them. Not even my husband knows where my journals are.”
- “I keep all my journals and I hope my niece reads them after I’m gone so she’ll know more about who I really was.”
- “My sister helped me burn my old journals. We had a ceremony. Watching them burn felt like letting go of pain and trouble and making way for my new happier life.”
Last summer, I read through 15 of my old journals going back almost as many years. Some entries were downright painful – my feelings of despair and frustration dealing with an abusive boss in a miserable workplace, fears about my impending knee surgery, and worries about my career, money, world peace, etc. I saw no value in saving these entries.
But there were also plenty of entries I deemed valuable – ideas for future articles, blog posts, stories, and art/crafts projects. Notes about car and house repairs, and significant events through the years such as births, deaths, marriages, and health issues. And happy entries like my joyful retirement from that God-awful workplace, my expressions of relief that knee surgery wasn’t so bad after all, and my feelings of satisfaction working for myself.
I cherry-picked entries and typed them into Evernote. Then I threw my journals in the recycle bin. I felt good letting go of the “bad” stuff, saving the good, and seeing empty (temporary) space in my bookcase.
What do you do with your old journals?
I am grateful for my health.
I am grateful that I am healthy.
I am grateful because I am healthy.
You may be one of those people who writes about gratitude every day. If you do, here’s a suggestion – add the word “because.”
After many years of writing my daily gratitude list, I got bored. I suspect that your gratitude list and mine are similar. Of course, we’re grateful for family and friends, our home, pets, health, job, etc. All boring expected expressions of gratitude, blah, blah, blah. So I started adding “because” to give depth and meaning to my gratitude, to drill down to the reason why I’m grateful. For example:
- Today I’m grateful for my husband because he’s purposely watching TV in the bedroom with the door closed so I can write in peace in the kitchen.
- I’m grateful for the beautiful weather today because I want to spruce up the planter in the front yard.
- And, I’m grateful for my new neighbors because they’re friendly and so are their three big dogs.
My daily gratitude list is more defined because I’m stating why. Every day, I’m grateful for my husband because…
Here in the States, we just celebrated Thanksgiving Day. It’s a busy week of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and visitors. My sister, her four adult children and their children came for the week. We had so much fun! But it was a challenge to write for 10 minutes every day with so much company. And, in the midst of all the activities, I got a great idea for a fictional character and a scene for a book or short story. So I had to write! I had to squeeze in 10 minutes between the cooking, shopping, playing, talking, visiting, etc. You can too:
- Add 10 minutes to your day by setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual.
- Write at the kitchen counter while you’re waiting for the water to boil or the potatoes to cook or the rolls to get burned – I mean browned. (I learned that 10 minutes is too long for rolls to be in the oven!)
- Lock yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes. (Note: this doesn’t work very well if you have children in the house because they see the closed bathroom door as their opportunity to have a conversation with you!)
- Sit in your vehicle in a well-lit parking lot at the mall or the grocery store and write for 10 minutes.
- Or, sit in your vehicle in your driveway or parking lot and write for 10 minutes.
- Invite your company to go with you to the library or a coffee shop where you can write for 10 minutes while they read or enjoy a snack.
- Write while your mother/sister/husband/niece/nephew is talking. Look up occasionally or nod your head to appear as if you’re paying attention.
- Announce that you’re going to take a 30-minute nap. Write for 10 minutes; sleep for 20.
- Ask whoever you’re with to write for 10 minutes with you. My sister Becky and write together and sometimes we read what we wrote out loud.
- Before you turn in for the night and go to sleep, turn off the television, tablet, computer, smartphone and then write for 10 minutes.
I’m re-reading “How to Write a Nonfiction Book in 21 Days That Readers LOVE!” by Steve Scott. He writes for 2-hours every day and tells how he does it in this book. Someday…
Here’s a photo posted on by one of my favorite websites/apps/editing program – www.grammarly.com. So, yeah, you don’t have to write new copy for 10 minutes every day. Re-write something you’ve written already. Re-write your to-do list, your long-term goals, or your business plan. Re-write your About Me, bio,or resume. Look back through your journals and pick an entry or two to re-write and expound upon. Like most writers, you’ve probably got a few unfinished stores or articles in your files. Whip them out and write for 10 minutes.
I only have 10 minutes to write today so please excuse my unedited rambling. Sometimes this happens when you write for 10 minutes every day – you just write – without editing, correcting, changing. You write quickly, off the top of your head, in the now. I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now (I know, I know, everybody’s read it already). He explains why and how to live in the now. So today I’m writing in the now – not about the past or the future, just what’s going on in my head at this moment – which is dinner – whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce and zucchini. We’re having an early dinner and then going to our writer’s group.
Sometimes when you write for 10 minutes every day, it’s not what you write that matters, it’s that you write at all.
Today is Sunday. For me, a day of rest and retrospect. A day to re-fuel my inner strength to face the week ahead. It’s a popular thing to write a gratitude list every day as a way to center your spirit. But my gratitude list has become repetitive. Every second of every day, I’m grateful for my family, my husband, my friends, my health, home, brains, beauty, freedom. That list is carved in stone and I can refer to it every day. So now I write, “I love it when….”
- I love it when my cat, Rebel, sleeps next to me.
- I love it when the sky is so blue that it sears my eyeballs.
- I love it when gas is only $2.01 per gallon.
- I love it when I see my friends on Facebook.
- I love it when my mom, sister, and friend Alicia spend time together.
- I love it when my husband, CJ, makes sarcastic remarks that make me laugh.
- I love it when CJ and I watch TV and eat ice cream together in bed.
- I love it when I spend time preparing my calendar and work for the coming week.
I love it when I write for 10 minutes every day!
My heart aches today. My nephew Adam was murdered 18 months ago. Shot in the head while sitting on the couch in his family room. Luckily, his parents had just left the house, his two children were sleeping, and his wife was at the store or they might have been murdered too. The trial ended yesterday. The murderer, a man who was married to one of our nieces, was found guilty by the jury of second-degree murder, child endangerment, and running from law-enforcement. The family is disappointed – shocked – that he wasn’t convicted of first degree murder, but at least we know he will be locked up for a long time – hopefully for the rest of his life.
I intended this blog to be about writing. But some days, like today, writing for joy just isn’t forthcoming.
My 10 minutes are up…..