Your Journal--an end in itself or just the beginning?

Last time on the blog we talked about writing slices of life: Capturing the moments of your life--past and present and writing them down in your journal. The next three blog posts will focus on what direction you can take when writing these slices of life.  Briefly they are:

  1. Your journal: when the journey is your destination. (today's topic)
  2. A curated collection of your moments, for you, for your children, for the future... (up next!)
  3. A writing project of your own? When your collection of short and sweet journal entries brings you somewhere unexpected. (the final post in this series).

Which one is for you, right now?  Only you can answer that--and here are two things to keep in mind:

  • The answer might surprise you.  
  • The answer will change--because writing changes you.

In each of the next three blog posts, I'll be asking you a few questions. Let's find out where you are on your writing journey today...where you may be tomorrow. (And no, you don't have to pick only one!)

Just keep an eye out and an open mind. 

Today's question:

Is your journal an end in itself or only the beginning?  

 No matter what goals you have for your writing. Focusing on the journey can lead to unexpected results.

No matter what goals you have for your writing. Focusing on the journey can lead to unexpected results.

 

Where are you going with your writing?

A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
— Lao Tsu

What's important to you on this writing adventure?

Is it the journey? The way every step polishes you (and your writing).

Or is it the destination?

Maybe you're climbing a mountain of pages and you know just what it looks like at the top: a collection of short stories, a record of your favorite moments of life for your children, a novel, a memoir...

Don't answer today's question yet. 

Just take it. Hold it in your hand, turn it over, examine it, slip it in your pocket to ponder on your journey.

 

Your Slice of Life Journal--an end in itself?

Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome.
— Arthur Ashe

We're all writers here...so why am I quoting a tennis player? 

Doesn't a tennis player polish her craft day after day? She may focus on one goal or one game, one destination...but there's no forgetting the journey: day after day of showing up to practice.

No matter how goal-oriented you are, writing is the same.

There's a very good case to be made for focusing on your journey--for letting your slices of life be an end in themselves. This can be your focus if...

  • You want a short and sweet way to start keeping a journal (or the motivation to keep it going!)
  • You're working on your mindfulness.
  • You've got specific goals for your writing style like finding a more natural voice, showing rather than telling, being more creative or even banishing certain kinds of errors.

Got specific goals for your writing style, or your voice? Focus on the journey.

When you're writing, focusing on the journey is not mystical--it's just what works!

Showing up to write, to capture your slices of life every day while you focus on your writing goals (style, voice, error correction...) is a great way to transform your writing.

If so, no need to worry about a 'final result' or a final 'product.'  The habit, the continued capturing of these slices of life is enough for you.  

In fact, focusing too much on the outcome (like finishing a blog series, a chapter, a book, or a novel) instead of on your writing style can leave you feeling stuck, unsure of how to take your next step.

 

 Ready for some hand-picked reading and creative writing prompts? Ready to draw inspiration from your reading and your life? Join the free, self-paced email program I designed just for you.

Ready for some hand-picked reading and creative writing prompts? Ready to draw inspiration from your reading and your life? Join the free, self-paced email program I designed just for you.

 

How to focus on your writing journey by writing slices of life:

Want a personal example?  You see, I follow my own advice. 

Years ago, I decided it would be a lot of fun to try writing my first novel--and it was. I worked with a small writer's group, wrote a chapter for each meeting.  My writing improved, and I learned so much from the process. But...

I also identified some specific areas I wanted to improve in my writing--and none of those areas require that I write a novel to improve! 

In fact, by taking off some of the pressure inherent in writing a novel and writing shorter pieces, I've been able to work on my specific goals more closely.

When you write a 'slice of life' it has the potential to turn into a blog post, an essay, a story...a novel. But it doesn't have to. And that freedom lets you focus on your technique. 

Like a tennis player focusing on just one swing again and again...or a swimmer practicing just the arm stroke, just the kick...or a pianist working on only one critical part of a new song.

Focusing on the journey instead of the destination is not the same thing as giving up your goals.  It is choosing to focus so that you can achieve your goals.

Different writing adventures call for different techniques.

Maybe today's blog post resonated with you. Maybe you need to practice smaller, shorter bursts of writing to achieve your goals.  

Then again, maybe you've got other ideas? 

That's a great thing, you know?--recognizing what you and your writing need right now.

I'll be writing two more blog posts on this topic to help you see where your writing may take you.  

  1. How to start curating a collection of your moments (your slices of life).  If you want to make something a little longer, a little more concrete from all of your writing. 
  2. How to use your journaling habit (and your slices of life) to start get started on a writing project of your own.

So stay tuned for the next two posts on this topic.  In the meantime, I'd love to know where you are on your writing adventure.  

Your two cents:

Have you ever taken a step back from more complex writing projects to focus on a single aspect of your writing?  

Do you give yourself permission to write sometimes 'just for practice' and not for the finished product? 

Leave your comments below, get in touch or join me at the Vagabond English Book Club on Facebook for a great chat with your fellow book-lovers, journal-writers and language adventurers...