Thursday, August 16, 2012

Journaling: Tips and Tricks 2

This is part of an ongoing series of posts on journaling because I like it and I want to share. You can find more posts under the "journaling" tag.

Tip 2: Consolidate your journal to increase the chance of keeping up

Unless you're really good at compartmentalizing and keeping a whole lot of things running at once (which I'm not), combine all your journals into one. I used to keep a planner, a calendar, a personal musings journal, a writing notebook, an idea notebook, a gratitude notebook, and probably about a dozen other partial notebooks with no actual defined idea of what they were. Every time, I would get maybe ten, maybe fifteen pages in, then leave them. All those unused pages! All that wasted paper! And it was so frustrating to want to do something, and to find myself forever not getting it done.

Until I consolidated.

I started this with my blogs. I used to run twelve (!) blogs, but I found it harder and harder to keep up with them. So I folded the majority of them into this one, and now it's super-easy! After that, I was looking at all the piles of unfinished notebooks laying around, each with its own purpose and each isolated, and I started thinking that I was dividing up my life too much. Psychologically, it was much more satisfying to put everything into one book. Some reasons why:

  • It gives everything context. When you're keeping your gratitudes next to your memories of the day and your list of things to do, there's connections for why you're grateful, where your ideas come from, how the parts of your life inform each other.
  • It's organic. This is how life actually is, everything all together.
  • It organizes itself. Instead of having to keep dozens of notebooks each with a different purpose, and instead of having to cross-reference everything, it's all in one place.
  • It makes your future biographers' lives easier--because of the straight-forwardness of it.
  • It's holistic. Instead of seeing yourself as a series of slices, you can see your life and your thoughts and your emotions as one cohesive whole.
Now, this isn't to say that I have only one notebook at a time, really. As I mentioned in the last post, my "journal" is actually a collection of notebooks and blogs. There are notebooks and scraps of paper all over. But the scraps all come back, eventually, to one notebook--the current month's composition book--and that one holds everything that needs holding. It also gets annotations of what I'm reading, what posts I publish, anything I submit, and so on, so that the off-site things are also in context. All the other notebooks are nets, and this one is the boat that pulls them all in.

I think sometimes in this world, we're encouraged too much to separate up the parts of our lives, and I think when we do it too often or for too long, we lose the context. We forget that all these parts come from one whole, and that the whole is who we are, really, not the slivers.

Do you keep lots of separate journals, or just one? How do you organize what books you're writing in at any one time? Would you consider consolidating?
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