An Eclectic Human
A newsletter about design, community, and being a human

1.11 Dumping my brain onto the page

I’ll let you stay on this side of the pink shutters as you enjoy these short stories from Matt without context:

He sat intently staring into the screen, indifferent or supportive I don’t know. The music is nice but I wonder, will we get home tonight?

What do we think of him? Well, he was strong, dominant, determined, impatient, submissive, weak, and deeply loved.

The huge crowd and heavy omelets at my grandparents’ Christmas breakfast is always stifling, but this year it wasn’t.

• • •

New Year’s resolutions don’t sit very well with me. They usually end up being wishful thinking, unattainable or unmeasurable, leaving me discouraged if I don’t accomplish them. I prefer to create systems or habits instead. These help me modify my behavior not by merely wishing for it but by making it a part of my daily life. Eventually it’s something I don’t have to think about anymore.

One habit I’ve tried to form (again) is writing in a journal. I was very diligent about it as a young adult, but from the past few years I have precious little written about my thoughts, feelings, and actions. My journal writing is not really for posterity or family members to read (although maybe they will). It’s mostly for me to reap the benefits of writing and explore my own past and present psyche.

Chris Gonzales wrote an article about how he uses Day One, which is also my journaling repository of choice. This is one reason he does it:

It’s therapeutic. Journaling is cathartic for the mind and soul, corny as that sounds. Whenever a tough problem needs solving, or if I’m being weighed down by mental baggage, I turn to my journal. I’ve discovered it’s one of the best ways to clear my mind. There’s nothing quite like dumping my brain onto the page so I can have a better look at what’s going on in there.

I’ve found that my thinking and my disposition are more clear and positive when I’ve spent time writing in my journal. That benefit occurs even if I don’t venture past merely chronicling events into deeper contemplative exploration.

Chris describes some systems he uses to make journaling into a habit, from reminders to photographs to Launch Center Pro automation. Whether you go that route or stick with trusty pen and paper, the point is that following a process that lets you clear your mind can bear great fruit.

I started using Day One two years ago when I broke my ankle, and last week I finally passed 100 entries. I hope that number keeps growing steadily as I work to make journaling a habit again.

• • •

Do you keep a journal? What benefits have you gleaned from it?