In early August, as I was taking a little break from the blog, I issued myself a small challenge: write every day, by hand, in my low-tech journal.
I’d fallen out of the habit during our crowded July, and I missed spending time at the page – not always writing anything “important,” but simply jotting down thoughts and memories and to-do lists. I also wanted to see if I could do it, plain and simple. If I wasn’t spending (much) time and energy on the blog, could I transmute that same energy into my journal? I started a brand-new journal on July 31, with high hopes.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t write every day.
Here’s what happened, though: I wrote nearly every day.
Sometimes I wrote more than once a day, scribbling down a few paragraphs in the morning and then returning for a longer writing session after work. I mused and rambled and vented; I made lists and dreamed and wondered. I worked through more than a few exercises from The Sound of Paper (for at least the fifth time). My left hand sported ink stains, and my soul remembered how to exhale.
I began to crave that time at the page, that time to listen to myself and remember what I think and why it matters. I urged myself to pick up the pen even when I didn’t want to. I did not always succeed in this, but I began to turn back toward that gentle discipline, the one I’d almost forgotten: the deeply pleasurable act of daily (or almost-daily) writing.
It’s a new month now, and last night I finished the journal I’d been scribbling in during my prolific August. I don’t know as yet if any brilliant essays were hatched in that journal, or if the fresh journal I’m starting will hold better ideas. And I’ve realized it doesn’t matter – at least, not as much as I thought it did.
What matters is the process, the gentle daily doing, the wholesome and freeing (and sometimes frustrating) act of laying it all out there on the page. What matters, as all the best writing teachers would say, is that I’m writing. Even if it’s messy or disjointed or mundane.
I’m not sure if I’ll manage to write every day in September. But I’m keeping the same goal in mind: to write nearly every day, by hand, and thus to dig a little deeper into my own life. (And maybe I’ll turn up a few good ideas while I’m digging.)
Do you write in a low-tech journal, or have a daily writing practice? Do you agree that the process is important? I’d love to hear your thoughts.