I sat on my porch swing writing this morning when I came across a post-it note from late 2015. It had my proposed schedule for the coming year which included dedicated journal time for an hour a day, three days a week. I couldn’t remember the last time I had actually spent that much time in a given week journaling. This year has brought a unique set of challenges and as much as I enjoy writing, it has not been on my mind as much as those early months in 2016 shortly after I wrote the sticky note.
Without a schedule it’s easy to relegate writing to another day, or another week when somehow magically my calendar will open up and the writing time will suddenly appear. The irony is that I already schedule so much of my life, from meetings to project deadlines and even when I plan to write a blog post. My own personal writing, the kind that helped lift me from burnout and depression has increasingly taken a back seat in my life as my schedule changes.
I still find time to write, usually on Sunday nights as a way to reduce the anxiety associated with the weekend ending and having to return to work the next day. Weekend mornings also tend to bring out my desire to write, especially when I can sit outside and bask in the warmth of the day. Weekdays are a different story altogether. It’s not that I don’t have time. There is always time, it’s a matter of priorities and how present you are in any given moment to be aware of what you need versus what you want.
Often I go through what I want to write in my head but then fail to translate the thoughts to words on paper. While I’m grateful that I have learned to practice a great deal of mindfulness, it is still incredibly therapeutic to physically write down what my thoughts and reflect on the experiences in my life. Being able to go back to old journal entries and see where I first had an idea for something, or how enthusiastic I was at a particular point is also fascinating.
Importantly, writing down my experiences helps solidify them as memories. One chief complaint before I wrote on a regular basis is how I could barely remember all of the wonderful things that were happening throughout the year. I was so bogged down by work and just trying to keep my head above water that a hike through the woods in the middle of autumn barely registered as more than a blip on my radar. Since I am a ‘glass half-full’ type of person, I tend to focus more on the positive in my life but writing about some of the challenges I have faced, particularly the last few months with my health has also been a big source of stress relief.
Writing down my intentions to write more (ironic, I know) is really what helps me to make sure that it happens on a regular basis. Same goes for anything else in my life that is important but may have a tendency to fall off the radar with how full my life is in terms of work and other responsibilities. From this point on I am going to add writing time to my Google calendar so that it’s a legitimate appointment I have with myself. I’ll start with 30 minutes, three times a week in the mornings which is both doable and provides just the right amount of time for self-reflection.
I’m actually pretty excited to get back to more journal writing. The early months of 2016 were just a fantastic time in my life and anything that gets me closer to how I felt back then is a step worth taking. Happy writing!