Want to sound like yourself when you write? Find a voice that's truly yours?
You'll have to find something else first: The time.
I've talked to many people who want to start. And you have so many compelling reasons to get started.
- You love the way it feels to read, to immerse yourself in a story and the language. And you want to use your journal to get the most from your reading habit.
- You want your words and ideas to flow more easily,
- You want to express yourself in a more natural way--a way that sounds more like you.
- You need to become a better writer (for an exam, your studies, your business, your blog, a new job).
- You want to use your journal, your writing and your English to reconnect to life.
- Or you wonder if you could someday write your own story.
When? I mean, none of us is going to find more minutes in a day.
Not you, not me.
Believe me, I've tried. Sometimes I feel like time is this fabric that I've managed to shrink in the wash. I'm pulling on it, wrestling it--trying to get it to stretch back out.
Time, as I've often said, is our most precious commodity. And if you're starting to realize that too...
Then welcome home, my busy friend.
Because, let’s face it, we all need to learn and want to develop in so many ways.
But we’re starved for time, calm, inspiration, even connection to our closest family members.
I'm going to share 3 important steps you can take today to put your journal habit in place.
Because time is precious. It's a fact of life.
And if we try to ignore it, it catches up with us.
ONE: Be Short, Sweet and Consistent!
It’s exciting to start a new habit, but take your time.
Just reading this will not help you magically discover your voice. Nor will writing in your journal for 3 hours in one day and then stopping…
To get results you’ll need to do a little bit every day, you’ll need to make it a habit.
Could you take 15 minutes a day to write for two weeks to see what it’s like? If you don’t have 15 minutes, try 10.
- Go ahead and set your timer. That will help keep things in perspective.
- Tell yourself you have a 10 or 15 minute break. Then enjoy, listen to music, and clear your head (then let the words fly).
- Don't overthink it. Don't worry about writing a whole story today--or a blog post.
- Don’t over-commit. There’s no point. If you only have 10 minutes, stick to it.
- And don't feel bad about it. You don't need to spend an hour a day to get results from your journal habit.
TWO: Stop While You Still Have Ideas
Wondering if stopping at the end of 10 or 15 minutes will make you stop in the middle of your sentence. In the middle of your idea...or your story?
I know that it can seem frustrating to stop your journal in the middle of a thought.
But did you know that a number of writers actually stop working on novels, stories, chapters while they still have momentum?
So that they still have ideas when they come back the next day.
It's ok to finish your thought later, finish your story later, your list, your brainstorm…it's ok to write for two or three days about the same topic.
Afraid you'll forget? Make yourself a little note about what you want to say next time.
Besides, when you leave your ideas 'hanging,' you'll often find that you think them over in the meantime, and come up with better ideas the next time you write.
And wouldn't that be great? To be thinking about a book, a short story you're writing or a problem all day...in English?
THREE: Take Back a Little Time!
Easier said than done? Maybe.
Here are a few tips, plus I'll share why I think keeping a journal saves you time in the long-run.
Quick tips for finding time for your journal:
1. Pick a small notebook that you can carry with you.
Then you can write in your journal on a coffee break, while you’re waiting for the bus...it’s nice to write at home, but it’s not mandatory!
2. Try to find a specific time each day to write.
I personally love reading before bed...and writing when I wake up. It’s really quite feasible to get up 15 minutes earlier and write a bit in your journal while you have your coffee.
Plus, if you wake up a little earlier than everyone else, you have this magical thing...quiet :)
3. See what else you can stop doing for a week or two.
Maybe not forever…Maybe just try it out.
Is there a time of day when you just can’t take it anymore and need to disconnect? It’s a time we often reach for social media or TV. We need a break, an escape almost.
Writing has a way of helping you feel refreshed afterwards. Kind of the way you feel better after you exercise or spend time with someone you really care about.
Can you say the same about TV, social media...or some of the other 'breaks' we take?
Try scheduling a quick writing break and see what happens.
Keeping a Journal: the Antidote to the Busy life
Here are my thoughts on the matter. And I’ve been writing in my journal for...wow, 20 years.
Simply put, your journal is the antidote to the busy life.
You know what I do when I’m the busiest? When I feel like I’m running around like a chicken without a head?
I take a minute to write. Maybe I write about what I have to do...maybe I write about something else...
My journal is constantly saving me time. Writing, stopping, ignoring everything else lets me catch my breath.
And I get all of these...ideas. And I gain perspective.
Sometimes when I take a step back and stop rushing around, I realize...
- there are things I can decide not to do! (not always, but more than you'd think!)
- or things that I can do that will save me time,
- or solutions to problem that hadn't occured to me.
And even when it can’t slow down the pace of your life, a journal can help you keep things in perspective.
Super busy? That’s exactly why you should have a journal! Go ahead and write about how super busy you are, if you need to. Find creative solutions...in English.
How busy are you?
Are you keeping a journal? How do you find the time?
How could you find the time?
Let me know in the comments or stop by the Vagabond English Book Club on Facebook.