Benefits of keeping a Journal

While watching an interview on essentialism, the interviewee talked about keeping a journal. He went about it from the perspective on how relatives of his died and how one had all the information in his head vs. how another one had kept a journal, writing one page a day for a period of fifty years.

The interview can be found on youtuber and freelance filmmaker Matt D’Avella’s channel with a video titled “Becoming an Essentialist.”

But essentialism isn’t what I want to talk about, if you look at the title you’ll know exactly what I want to talk about.

You guessed it, keeping a journal.

Anyway, other than the therapeutic nature of writing your thoughts out and the crazy, kooky and nutty fantasies you have but can never stomach anyone else knowing about, keeping a journal can help you immensely with your writing.

And not in the sense you think.

What I’m talking about isn’t novel writing practice or keeping a diary of your dirty and ugly secrets, only to have your partner find them and leave you heartbroken and depressed to do anything for three to six months. No, not it at all.

What I’m talking about is writing one page a day, every day, rain or shine, for the rest of your life.

Now, before you go thinking you can’t do this or that you don’t have the time to do this, let me tell you why you need to do this.

Remember the segment where I talked about consistency? Yeah, that’s one reason why. Two, you need to learn to organize your thoughts. Three, you need more than one anchor in your life to keep you grounded. Four, you can’t be THAT lazy to forget to write one page a day. Five, you need to learn the effects delayed gratification can have and how to think long term.

With that let’s break down each reason.

  1. Consistency– when you’re consistent with something, it means you’ve developed the habit of doing it without wavering. it means you don’t need motivation or passion or this massive surge of energy that comes once every year or lifetime. It means you’re making steady progress toward something and it means you’re becoming proficient. When you maintain consistency and take steps to improve your art, your improvement will be exponential because you can constantly apply every new thing you learn and better resist the pull to atrophy.
  2. Organizing your thoughts-what writing comes down to is being perceptive and able to organize your thoughts, to be able to describe what the reader is seeing and transporting them into your world. When you develop a consistent habit of writing your thoughts down every day, you get to see the string of logic in real life and discover some of the mistakes or simple flaws of each string. You get to observe your thoughts over time and pinpoint what about those thoughts, or what type of thoughts cause problems, and you can work to eliminate them. Then, once you become proficient at analyzing and organizing your thoughts, you can transfer that to your writing.
  3. More than one Anchor– in life, many things will happen that will hoist our anchors off the ground and have us sail toward god-knows-where. Which is why it’s important to have more than one anchor. Let’s say something happens to where you have almost no time at all to write (even though you’ve gotten rid of almost every distraction at this point). If you can’t get to your five, ten page a day quota, you can at least write one page a day. Progress, no matter how slow.
  4. Laziness– your mind is lazy and naturally attracted to easy. it likes to think in the short term and ignore the long term. It likes things to be the way they are forever, it doesn’t want change, even for the better. Weird, right? Yeah, so you need to trick your mind into productivity by making small, incremental changes that grow over time. This way, the change seeps in and develops a vice grip over the mind, and you can then aim the sniper-rifle of improvement (Alex Becker’s term) at a specific, unproductive part of your brain and eliminate it.
  5. Delayed Gratification– when you first do something, it sucks. Then you get used to it. Then you forget that it ever sucked in the first place, it becomes just another part of your life. How does this happen? Delayed gratification. If you write one page a day, every day, for one year, you have three hundred sixty-five pages. If you write every day for a period of fifty years (give or take a few leap-years), you’d have at least 18,250 pages. That’s insane. Get it? Got it? Good.

Well, hopefully that at least begins to outline the benefits of writing a small amount over a long period of time. Writers don’t spend all their time reading and writing. They have lives outside of that. The reason they become famous is that they are consistent. They pick a pace and stick to it no matter what happens in life and life rewards them for their perseverance.

Well, that’s my spiel on the subject.

Till next week. . .

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