The Journal Report


“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”

~ Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

The first week of doing my journal is over, and it went well. I really appreciate all the help and advice that’s poured in, too.

I did a lot of learning about writing a journal. The best and most consistently repeated rule I came across — whether on the blog, by email or in books people told me about — was to “set aside the same time every day to write, and then write every day.”

That seem so true.

Right now, I probably can’t follow the “set aside the same time every day” part, due to a schedule that’s just too hectic and at the whim of everyone else. But that’s okay. Someday I’ll be able to do that. For now, I’ll grab time when I can. But I will try to write every day. And this week, I did write every day.

The other consistently repeated advice I came across was “write in the morning when you are fresh.” I think that’s probably true. But I will definitely not be able to follow that.

I’m just not a morning person. I wake up at the last possible minute. Actually, ten minutes after that. Then I need about 24 ounces of coffee before I’m capable of voice or thought. Conversations in our house in the morning are usually only “ugh,” or “uhh” or “mmm.”

Writing first thing in the morning? You might as well ask me to take the MCATs. Being fresh first thing in the morning?  Mmm, ugh, uhh, not me.

But you know what? One nice thing about getting older is you realize that some things about yourself cannot be changed. I may someday learn to knit. I will never be the kind of person who rises at 5 a.m. to get a jump on the journal.

But that’s okay. I’ve been writing at every time of day except first thing in the morning, and that’s worked out fine.

The best advice I got was from a friend. I’m paraphrasing, but it was that “the journal exists to serve you; you are not there to serve the journal.”

I love that. Not just because that’s the opposite of practically every other relationship in my life. But mostly because what he’s saying is, the journal is just a tool. Like a pen or ink.

To write in my journals doesn’t have to be a task I have to do. It doesn’t have to provide some transcendent experience. The journal isn’t there to reread if I don’t want to. It isn’t there to amaze or enlighten. It isn’t talismanic. It isn’t to make me a better writer, or a more conscious and evolved human being, or to help process my thoughts. It’s just a notebook to write things down in.

It’s a room for words. My room, for my words.

Some Journal Inspiration

“Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, sent along by a friend.