I’m celebrating an anniversary this year. August 7 marked 40 years since I first started journaling. I decided to celebrate by reading some of my early journals. That’s been an interesting experience.
I guess I should say I’m celebrating the anniversary of when I started journaling and actually stuck with it. There were other attempts, but those didn’t last beyond a couple of weeks. So how did I go from another failed attempt to making journaling an essential part of my day? The answer was in my early journals.
As I began reading my first journal, I was surprised to see that the entries were so short. Once in a while, I had an idea for an article, and I sat down and wrote the whole first draft in my journal. More often, my early entries were only a couple of paragraphs.
What’s even more surprising about those early entries are the times I stopped writing mid-sentence. On August 26, 1979, I wrote: “Some days are just too busy. You look around and see all that needs to be done and you know that it’s….” The sentence ends there. I suppose I planned to come back later and finish that thought, but it didn’t happen. The next entry was August 27 and I was off on a completely different topic.
It’s a little creepy to see something like that forty years later. Where was I going with that thought? It’s a mystery that will never be solved. On the other hand, I do understand how that could happen. Maybe it was early morning and the kids woke up interrupting my thought. Or maybe I was writing in the afternoon and there was a ruckus in the back yard that needed my attention. My kids were four and six then and there were a lot of interruptions. Or maybe I was writing at night and fell asleep mid-sentence. At that time, I didn’t have a regular schedule.
Those early entries also showed a lot of frustration about finding time to write. In those days, I read all I could about becoming a writer. Those books stressed how important it was to write a certain amount each day and to write at the same time every day. Good advice, but I was failing miserably. Sadly, I let that inability to do what the experts said hold me back as a writer.
Journaling was different. I didn’t worry about when I worked or how much I wrote. I simply focused on doing the best I could. And guess what? Those journal pages started adding up, and soon manuscript pages were adding up as well. Focusing on writing what I could whenever I found time freed me to just write. I think that’s why I stuck with journaling this time around. I saw it as a first step in launching a career I had dreamed about ever since I was a kid.