Recently, I’ve re-picked up several of the old activities and hobbies I enjoyed during high school. For example, I started journaling. Physically writing my thoughts in a notebook has a very different effect on me than typing into my blog.
Actually, during one of my therapy sessions, Dr. Doctor recommended I write out my feelings on paper and see how I feel afterward. This was a suggestion based on a very specific bout of anger I was juggling. Then, I would be able to “let go” of the anger, letting it bleed onto pages and pages and pages.
Please note, I consider most of my current forms of writing to be journaling. Taking notes, keeping track, mind dumping. It’s all journaling in some sense of the word.
I like to keep all of my thoughts categorized and compartmentalized. I’m not sure where I picked up the habit, but it also manifests itself in my “Examiner/ISTJ” Myers–Briggs personality.
For example, I have three different blogs for three different sections of my life. I have a DayOne journal with one journal per mood/state of mind. Three physical notebooks keep track of my day-to-day diary, work meetings, and project ideas/planning. Evernote hosts eight notebooks for different categories work projects. Most of you know that Twitter is my favourite social media platform — and I have four active accounts.
Every so often, I’ll do something I call Mind Dumping. Depending on how heavy my brain feels at the moment, I set a timer for 5/10/15 minutes. Then, I’ll just write everything in a stream of consciousness until the timer stops. This helps to unload a lot of my stress. Since I’m a faster typer than writer, I write these in one of my DayOne notebooks, titled “Mind Dumps”.
At one point, I tried to make this a weekly ritual (Monday Mind Dumps?), but it began to feel forced rather than a source of decompression.
I’d recommend it for antsy folk like me, who have a harder time speaking than writing. You can always rearrange the thoughts later and bring it to your therapist (or me).
Writing vs Typing
I originally titled this post “Writing vs Typing”, but really, I use both. So, there’s no competition — both have their own pros and cons. You should decide on what works best for your journaling.
For example, I’m a slow writer, but I’m more likely to spill my guts out write out what’s really on my mind. I’m a fast typer, but I find myself filtering out my thoughts before hitting send. Therefore, I use both.
The important thing is being honest. Having a daily diary isn’t much use if it isn’t actually recording what’s on my mind. I want to look back and see what I was really thinking, not what I wanted to think.
Perfecting Your Craft
For some reason, I used to really, really want to maintain a bullet journal. I also attempted to use a Passion Planner for a while during college. Unfortunately, I wasn’t using either of them to their full potential, and stuck to my regular routine.
People tend to forget that the main point of these things is to keep it consistent. If you use a bullet journal, that’s great, as long as you’re actively using it to reach your goals. I wasn’t, so I don’t even try anymore.
Everything is ever changing. You’re going to work well with one system when you’re twelve, and a different system when you’re twenty-one. Taking notes in high school proved useful, because I was quizzed more on memorization. Taking notes in university was pointless, because I was graded on more projects than exams.
Another example of this shows in my relationship with WunderList. I used to glorify the app, used it every single day of college, and preached its powers to all of Twitter.
I had a really neat workflow that kept me on top of my assignments, projects, and textbook reading. Keeping track of tasks was easy, and I could even get ahead of the rest of the students with this system.
However, since I’ve graduated, I’ve had less go-go-go reason to keep an ongoing TODO system. I’ve instead moved over to the functional features of my IOS Calendar and Evernote. I open WunderList whenever I need to add a movie/anime/book to my infinite list of entertainment recommendations.
It just makes more sense to use whatever works best for you now.
Revisit Your Thoughts
The point of journaling is to document a thought/event/idea/etc. There’s no use in documenting your thoughts if you never reflect on them. I don’t keep minutes during meetings just for the sake of it.
I’ll be honest, mostly because I write for myself on this blog, most of my daily diary is written in a negative tone. This makes it difficult for me to want to revisit my thoughts, especially when I’m not in that mindset. But reflecting on these entries and looking for ways to improve my life honestly helps a lot.
I don’t want to be sadtiredangry, I want to be happy. What’s making me sad? I need to look at the root of the problem, and go from there.
What to Write About
Sometimes, I open up my notebook and just stare at it. I want to say something, but I don’t know what to say. Usually, I combat this by writing about an event that just happened. This can be as insignificant as my walk home from work, or as eventful as an outing with friends.
Maybe it’s the season, but I find myself trying to sneak in ways to write about what I’m thankful for. It helps to be able to see it on paper (or on a blog post).
It doesn’t have to be a gigantic list. I’m grateful for this laptop, because it got me through college and allows me to type up this blog post. See? Easy, short, and now we’re moving on to the next topic.
I don’t mean write about what’s going on in the news, though you can. What’s going on in your life right now? Journal entries make great snapshots into your life in the past.
Unfortunately, I tend to fall into the trap of trying to catch the reader (my future self) completely to the story, which after a while makes me dread journaling. Now, I just include what’s essential to the story, and hope Future Maryn can connect the dots.
What are you looking forward to? I love having events to countdown, because it kind of keeps me going. After you cross off one event, you have more to go. I’m down to one more event of the year that I’m looking forward to: Chet Porter & San Holo!
Whatever You Want
Out of my personal diary, I also keep a notebook of ideas. I write them down, even if I don’t intend on following through. Sometimes, reading back on the entries, I feel inspired to work on things, even if it isn’t what I was writing about.
You can be as vague or as specific as you want. The important thing is to keep writing. Consistency is key.
In the more traditional sense of journaling, most people write because they want to analyze themselves. I want to shatter my brain and evaluate each shard of thought. Why am I like this? What are my goals? Where am I heading?
Your past affects your present. Your present affects your future.
With journaling, you can figure out your own patterns and the way you work. In addition to all of my aforementioned journals, I recently picked up an app called Youper. It prompts me to log my feelings every evening before I turn off my phone. It’s very useful for a quick glance into the window that is my brain. I’d recommend it.