The Fringe Benefits of Writing a Journal!

I’m a big fan of James Clear’s posts. He writes on habits, productivity, and human potential. His statements are simple and yet, profound. I was particularly intrigued by his posts on developing habits. He says that if you want to become good at something then you should practice it every day. If you want to improve your writing, write every day. If you want to improve your running, run every day. It’s all about being consistent. We know that, don’t we? But the problem is, we do not get into action. I decided to take steps to improve something about myself. Considering most of my work and hobby revolved around writing, it was my obvious choice.

The very next question that followed was – ‘What to write?’. I considered taking up one of these 30-day writing challenges but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to publish it. There are many factors to consider when publishing a post and I didn’t want to get overwhelmed by them. It did not matter what I wrote, as long as I wrote every day. To ease the pressure, I decided not to publish what I wrote on my blog. I felt relieved because I didn’t want to end up diverting my attention. Now that I did not want to publish, I could write about anything – I wasn’t going to judge myself. So I opted to write a journal. I could put down whatever thoughts were running on my mind or answer the question – ‘How are you feeling today?’. I was set.

Handling the ‘’When’ part of the activity was tricky. I wanted to write at the same time every day so that I wouldn’t have to rely on reminders to ensure the task gets done.  After some thinking, I narrowed it down to my lunchtime. I usually take about 45 minutes off for lunch. After I’m done with my lunch – about 10 minutes max, I go for a walk or read some articles. I decided to use 15 minutes of this time to write. There was no way I would miss lunch. So, tagging this activity with my lunch would ensure that I could almost never miss it.

Masterstroke, huh?

I started this activity in June. With every entry, I enjoyed the freedom of pouring my heart out without any limitations. I could share my thoughts and my perspectives without having to explain every word. I could relive a happy moment by writing about it and go back to read it whenever I needed some feel-good vibes. I loved writing about what I saw, the people I interacted with, how some people were so awesome and how some people had to learn to leave their vanity aside. I also wrote about how I should mind my own business instead. I wrote down anything that was bothering me. It felt great to have a space to vent.

Today, I wrote the 60th entry on my journal.

In the initial days, I would set reminders to write. After a few days, it seamlessly blended into my routine. I’ve missed writing on many days, but I always got back no matter how long the break was. I *wanted* to get back.  I couldn’t wait to write about a sweet gesture by the husband. I couldn’t wait to write about the enthusiasm with which my mom shares all the news from Chennai. I could write about how one person was annoying me in one WhatsApp group and how close I was to quitting it for my sanity. I could write about how great it felt to buy the dress I always wanted. I also used this space and time to do a draft on the pieces I wanted to blog about. Worked fine for me.

Among everything I wrote, I truly enjoyed writing about how I felt. I’d recently read about the benefits of writing down your feelings –  it helps you get a better control of your emotions. I used it to vent out. I would read it later to understand what triggered to me and if I could have handled it in a better way. Writing about my feelings felt cathartic. A lot happens around us. While we may discuss certain issues, we neither have the time nor the right company (every time) to discuss every single thing that bothers us. Writing it down was one way of handling those feelings once and for all. And it was as relieving as speaking to someone about it. Most important of all, it gave me a sense of closure for everything that was floating around in my mind.

What started off as an activity to improve my writing made me feel good. I had a personal space to vent all negative and exhausting thoughts draining my mind. As they say in Tamil – one stone, two mangoes.

My takeaways from this activity are:

  • You can become good at anything if you do it every day. Consistency is the key.
  • Plan well. Make it feasible. Start small.
  • Anything will work as long as you make it interesting for you.
  • Motivation is overrated. Focus on your intentions.

The definition of ‘good’ is subjective. Have I become good at writing? Perhaps not. I have noticed a marked improvement in the way I write but I still have a long way to go. But, did I enjoy the process? Absolutely.  As cliched as it may sound, I look forward to writing every day. I enjoy the process much more than I would enjoy the results I’ve been aiming for. I know I will get there someday, it will be gradual and there are many other factors involved. But until then, I will continue to write every day. If not for my mind, at least for my soul.

Do you maintain a journal? If yes, what do you write about?

Image Courtesy: Pixabay

11 thoughts on “The Fringe Benefits of Writing a Journal!

  1. Thank you for a great post, it was a nice one to read 🙂 And also: thank you for linking to James Clear! I wasn’t familiar with his work from before. I’m also a huge fan of habits and, fun enough, writing journal from Monday to Friday is the latest thing I’ve tried making into a habit!

    So yes! I write a journal, from Monday to Friday as those are the days when I follow a more strict schedule compared to the weekends. I always write in the morning after I’ve finished my coffee and before I start writing on my other projects.

    What I usually write down is thoughts and ideas that don’t just scratch the surface but go under it. Previous years my journal writing (which was a very on-off activity before) was more about what I had done and what I had planned for the day, so more flat, obvious things. But now I try to dig into my thoughts, to question why I feel in a certain way and try to track down my activities to learn why I have the thoughts I have. It’s not always easy but some days it can be very calming and satisfying!

    Have you noticed similar development in your writing? At first, I felt it was tough to come up with something to write about but as the days passed and I wrote more, it became easier for me to write about more difficult, more ‘deep’ things as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey! Yes. It’s easier to follow a schedule on the weekdays and that’s why it’s been easier for me to stick to the writing. I’d love to do it the first thing in the morning but I need to step out early and prepare for the commute to work.

      I used to write in my diary about what happened through the day, when I was at school and college and after making it to 3 diaries, I stopped. So I didn’t want to do the same thing all over again and like you said, decided to go one step deeper and find out why I was feeling the way I was. It is a different experience and I am enjoying it 🙂

      Yes. There were many days I used to wonder what to write about and now it’s like my fingers know what to write as soon as I open my Notepad/Docs about anything that my mind wants to write about 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing!
    You are right. Everything is about practice. When you want something, you work hard and do not rest till you have achieved it.

    Yes, I do have my journal. I have become quite irregular in putting up things but your post reminded me of my school days and college days when i used to write aggressively and daily. Your post motivates me to go back to writing now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I know it’s a small thing but I feel so happy and proud to have made it a point to do what I wanted despite no direct benefits. And here’s that friendly nudge to resume your journal. Good luck, Nikita 🙂

      Like

  3. I have had the habit of maintaing a diary since my school days. It was for journaling daily occurances as well as personal musings. There was a time, I had collected so many little diaries that I didnt know what to do with them. luckily with the evolution of blog, a lot of what I thought went into it. But sadly enough, the joy of writing in a journal lost out.

    But then, as long as something works for you, best is to stay put at it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I somehow feel the magic of journaling is lost once you open it up to someone else. So I like to keep it private and write without any inhibitions. And I’ve faced the issue of having too many diaries and being worried about someone else reading it, so that was the main reason I stopped writing when I was in college.

      Like

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