24/100 — On daily journaling

The past 9 years in journal form. Many of these are not Moleskines, but  Paperchase  journals

The past 9 years in journal form. Many of these are not Moleskines, but Paperchase journals

Austin Kleon, my creative role model, has been interviewed on Extraordinary Routines.

I still haven’t read any of his books (sorry!), but I’ve been reading his blog for a while now. His daily habit of writing and blogging is what largely inspired this 100 Day Project. His blog posts are always entertaining, sometimes informative, and often inspiring; they show me what daily creativity looks like, and they make me want to experience the world in a similar way.

In the interview, he explains how one of the first things he does in his studio in the morning is to journal. He then turns whatever was interesting in his journal into a blog post:

“I always keep a pocket notebook on me, and then I diary in the morning, and then create a blog post, and those blog posts will become talks, which then become books. You don't have to worry about what to write about, you just write every day and things begin to develop.”

There’s something really wonderful about engaging with the world in this deep and meaningful way. To go through the day with open eyes, looking for something to wonder at or think about, is a habit I’m sadly still working on.

In a way, I’ve been journaling since I could write. In first grade, part of our weekly routines was to write and draw about the previous weekend. (I will never forget the week I drew my grandfather gutting a chicken he’d killed, though unfortunately I can’t remember the teacher’s reaction to it) I picked up notebooks again and again over the years, although I don’t think I properly started writing in them until I was about 18.

For all these years though, my journals have never been a way to record things. I’m currently reading the diaries of Sylvia Plath as part of my mornings, and it’s striking to me how she managed to fill pages and pages with descriptions of her days and the world and people around her. For me, writing has always helped to figure myself out. I have endless pages wondering this way or that about someone I had a crush on, figuring out my opinions on all kinds of topics, or making the sort of life plans you make while your actual life is happening. The idea of going back through them on a regular basis seems unbearable to me.

Last year I very briefly dabbled in doing the Bullet Journal Method properly, which involved taking notes at the end of the day. They turned into a logbook of sorts, where I’d write down films I’d seen and people I’d met and new things I’d discovered. I enjoyed that activity, as it allowed me to reflect on what I’d done and paid attention to that day, similar to the logbooks Austin Kleon uses to record his daily life.

Here he’s again on the act of compiling a weekly newsletter, another level of regular reflection:

“It's a very meaningful ritual to me because I get to look back at the week and think, ‘Did I write enough good stuff this week? Was I on track?’

One of my favourite writers Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who passed away not too long ago once tweeted,  ‘To anyone trying to figure out their life, pay attention to what you pay attention to. That's pretty much all the information you need.’ The newsletter's a way of paying attention to what I'm paying attention to.”

I’m currently on a mission to adapt my morning routine to involve less screen time and more paper time, so maybe I’ll give logbooks a go; see if I experience things differently. I’ll report back when I feel like it.