I’m a big believer in journaling. In fact, my journal is my closest friend and confidante. I keep a supply of book-sized blank journals with smooth paper so I’ll never be caught without one. Every morning, I sit up in bed, switch on the bedside lamp, grab my journal and pen, and start writing. Somehow, writing like that before I’m good and awake is a lot more productive than it would be if I wrote in the middle of the day.
Sometimes I just record what happened the day before, without any comment. Sometimes I write about what I want to do, either that day or in the future. Sometimes I ask myself hard questions and answer them as honestly as I can. I list options and debate their pros and cons. I confess snarky thoughts and ideas too weird to share with another person. When I’m in the midst of writing a novel, I play with plot and character ideas in the journal, making suggestions to myself that I like or discard.
Whether I’ve waxed poetic or mundane, I feel clearer and more mentally organized when I’ve finished the morning’s writing. All the day’s anxieties have been left in the journal, so I don’t have to think about them any more. Early morning writing gives shape to my day, and all I have to do is follow it. When I’ve filled a journal, I take time to read the whole thing — usually about six months of my life. Doing that is like reading a novel because you see patterns you weren’t aware of at the time.
I’ve been journaling for more years than I can remember, and I’ve saved every finished book, with the beginning and ending date scribbled at the front. Sometimes when I’m writing, I have a mental image of one of my progeny reading all those journals some day and being shocked or appalled or amused at the things that rambled through my head. The thought used to make me uncomfortable, but not any more. My journals reveal who I truly am. Everybody will just have to get over it.