Reflection, not Resolutions

notebooks

I journal every day of the week. Some people I talk to, especially authors, find this odd. They wonder how I can afford the time. My answer is always the same: I can’t afford not to.

I’ve journaled ever since high school, and the picture above is a mere fraction of the piles of notebooks I have kept, which now reside in my attic, closet, and desk. The practice of putting words to page has helped me through my life, long before I was published, and it still does.

Just this morning I wrote 8 pages in my scrappy handwriting. But that’s due to the fact that the holidays kept me from my routine, so I had a lot to say. Most mornings, pre-novel writing, I scribble 2-3 pages of what I’m thinking about, what I’m concerned with. It’s good for me to clear my head before I set my sites on fiction. If I don’t, I find that my concerns block me from accessing the story. But more so, I think the journaling is a bit of a cathartic release. I find myself having these elaborate conversations, which then allow me to work through my problems. I’ve made some significant life decisions within the pages of my journals, and I think we would all be better for the practice.

Yes, I’m suggesting you get a journal and write about your life. And for some people that will seem like the most ridiculous waste of time. To that I’ll counter with, Facebook 🙂

People spend a lot of time on social media dressing up their lives for the world or for family and friends to see. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that it doesn’t truly allow for an examination of your life, where journaling does.

So, as 2015 begins, pick up a notebook, and once a day, skip that post, and instead, spend time considering your life. You don’t need to write a memoir. You don’t even need to spell correctly. Just write. Spend 15 minutes writing and reflecting about what’s going on and how you feel, and you will be so much more attuned to the world around you, the one that really matters, the life you see when you look up from those pages.

Because even though I write fiction and live in worlds of my own creation for countless hours, what matters most are those people I see when I step out of this office. And the words I have written about us, hopefully guide me in the right direction.

Regardless of whether you take up journaling or not, I wish you a Happy New Year. Spend it with the ones you love and don’t mull over resolutions you know you’ll break. Just take the time to reflect. Your life, and by extension, all of ours, will be better for it.

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