"Daddy, what's this book?" she asked.
"It's my journal"
"Daddy, what's a journal?"
Sometimes the simplest questions carry the biggest answers. I explained it was a book where I wrote things down about my life, about my ideas, about my questions, dreams, hopes, prayers, and lots of other things. She noticed on some of the pages I had drawn pictures or diagrams and I explained that it was where I also drew and sketched, and created things. It was a place where I wrote down stories.
My secret hope was that I would say something that would catch her imagination. I have been keeping a personal journal for over 30 years and I would be thrilled if my daughter learned to love journal writing like I do. Some years I have been diligent, recording thoughts and events every day, while other years have seemed to slip by so quickly I could barely catch my breath to write before the time was gone.
Some of my journals are fun, capturing a creative side of my life that allows me to go exploring.
One things is for certain when it comes to journal writing, it isn't easy. No, that isn't quite true, I should rephrase and say it wasn't easy. This past year, in an effort to become a better writer and more consistent in my journal writing I bought yet another book on writing. But this one struck home and changed my writing and my comfort level with what I wrote and how much I wrote.
The chapter that made the difference for me was addressing my writing block in my journals because the type of BOOK I was writing in was affecting my ability to write.
When I had a very beautiful, expensive journal, my subconscious mind began telling me that I could only write big expensive things in the book. Beauty on the outside had to be matched by beauty on the inside.
And that was preventing me from writing. Sometimes I just wanted to write nonsense but the book kept telling me that I couldn't do that.
What Natalie pointed out in one of her chapters was to remove this very real roadblock by changing the type of book we were writing in. Instead, she recommended generic, cheap, spiral binders, that you normally fill with meaningless stuff and throw away. By writing in a book of little value it meant you could write about anything and not worry that the writing wasn't worthy of the book.
Suddenly the logjam burst and I began to write.
But next was finding the time to write. Again, Natalie had the answer. Set aside 10-15 minutes and just start writing nonsense inside your cheap notebook. Like doing warmup exercises before a work out. By setting aside 15 minutes and just writing, I found I could write about anything. And the writing picked up.
If you are planning on writing in your journal this year, then I recommend Natalie's book and I recommend you go buy a pile of cheap school notepads and steer clear of the elaborate books.
Then, set aside some time and just begin to write. And who knows, in a few years, you may be able to sit down with your daughter and read her stories from your very own book of life.