Are you Journaling? 5 Reasons why you should

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One of my bigger accomplishments of 2014 is that I kept a journal in which I wrote every night before bed. Each day I would do bullet points of happenings that day and at the bottom I would write tasks for tomorrow. No entry would be longer than a notebook page (in this case mine was 8×6) and each one was concise and summarized the day.

This year I will be doing the same again. If you are not journaling I urge you to on a routine business and if you are not sure why here are a few reasons:

1. It is a good way to evaluate in a timely fashion

Writing in it every night forced me to look back on my day and see just where I could have changed things or how I could have been more productive. It also helped me to reflect on things that happened relational, emotional, and spiritually. Why did I argue with that person? Hmmm I probably could have spent less time on social media. Wow, when I sum it up, I really didn’t do much of anything today. These are some thoughts I have at the end of the day when journaling and assessing how I acted during the day helps me make better decisions for tomorrow.

2. Keeps you on task

Part of my daily journaling is putting down the things that I had accomplished that day and things that I will need to do the next day. For instance when it comes to my writing, I would put what my progress was for the day and what I was expected to accomplish tomorrow. Also have you ever just gotten into bed and realized ALL the things you forgot to do that day? Yeah… now you have a place where you can write all those things down so you can remember to do them tomorrow.

3. Baggage lifter

Ever have something happen to you and you just need to get it off your chest. This is a good way to do that. “Never let the sun go down on your anger”. You don’t have to go into super details when writing about it, you can simply just write down that you are angry and frustrated. Just doing that can sometimes make you feel better.

4. Looking back

Going back now and rereading my journal entries allows me to see myself almost from the outside. I read entries of things I have gone through that seemed so consuming at the time but now I am over. There are events in it that I have forgotten have happened. And mostly there is a running theme of thoughts and actions that I didn’t notice before. It is like I am giving insight to myself. It is kind of like one of those look back videos they have on Facebook only this is far more detailed and personal.

5. It can be fun!

I use multicolored gel pens and alternate between them so at the end of the year it is like a rainbow of colors. Sometimes I will even paste something in it or doodle. At the front of the book I usually start it with a meaningful quote, then accomplishments for the past year, disappointments, and then what I am looking forward to this year. You can do whatever you like, get creative, it is your outlet.

So give it a try and start journaling, it is definitely worthwhile.

Also here are some tips for journaling:

  • Find the right kind of notebook whether it is spiral, leather-bound, or digital. Make it a format that will be readily accessible and comfortable to use. For instance I prefer a spiral or soft-bound notebook usually by the company miquelrius.
  • Make sure the notebook is thick enough. If you want to write everyday then you need a notebook that has about 400 pages/200 sheets.
  • If you are keeping a digital journal I suggest using a word processor (word or pages) and saving the entries to a special folder if you are doing separate documents. A great app to use for this would be Evernote or Day One . Check out this article for good iPhone apps and this one for android apps.
  • Put the date at the top of the page. I usually put the time, the day of the week, and the date.
  • Leave space at the bottom to put tasks for the next day. I will help you look forward to tomorrow and when you look back you can see how often those tasks were completed.
  • Do it everyday or just once a week but make sure you are consistent.
  • Be open. This is about you and you shouldn’t be closed off to yourself.

Happy journaling!

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It’s Snowing…Nope

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Today I woke up to the sound of snowblowers. Yes, folks, it is officially that time of year again…sigh. Of course in MN we don’t do winter here half way, no sir, it is always go big or go home. So MN went big, currently 2″ and counting, and I, of course, stayed home. Granted it did help that I already had the day off (though I do still have to go to work tomorrow… le sigh).

What does this mean for me then? A day of hot tea, writing, and of course eventually shoveling the driveway. On the flip side I was actually planning on spending it at the Library anyways but quickly nixed that plan. Funny enough though, part of the reason I was going was because I have a book due back today but I’d rather collect over due fees than go out in this.

“One does not go out in the snow if one can avoid it.” Pretty sure that is a legit MN proverb.

Did I mention I’m currently watch vehicle number two try to get unstuck from what seems to be a rather sticky street? (correction it has just been updated to three… nope four now including the mail man).

Well as I continue to write as the snow falls outside my window I can only hope it brings inspiration and dreams of a much more snowless place.

Reassessing

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Have you ever stopped doing something because you can no longer remember why you started doing it in the first place or the reason that you started no longer feels valid? That is how I have been feeling with this blog. I haven’t written in three weeks because I could no longer see the purpose behind it. The one I originally had has slowly faded away and now I wonder why I even started.

This isn’t the first time this has happened either. Matter of fact this has happened each and every time I started writing a blog. I would start out with high hopes and a plan of action of what I am going to write and when I am going to write. The say the best way to plan a blog is to have a back log of posts already made so I would do that too.

But then after a while the back log posts would seem lame or not relevant to who I was at the moment and I would loose interest in my own writing until I would stop writing all together. Then I would take a break, sometimes a really long break, reassess and then come back with a whole different angle. One blog I changed the direction of so many times that I couldn’t even tell what it was about anymore.

Every time I stopped and every time I didn’t write I always felt like I was letting people down. I don’t know who though because I don’t even know how many people actually read this blog besides me. Either way I would pressure myself to write because of it and slowly feel the joy of writing starting to dwindle away.

I would write certain pieces and then think “man who is this narcissistic know it all”. Or I would read another piece and think “I wonder if people can actually tell that i don’t really care about this topic and am just posting it for the sake of posting something”. On and on and on.

Heres the thing, I started out doing this for me and ended up doing it for an invisible somebody else who pressured me with deadlines and more relevant topics and the need to be entertaining but meaningful, and some how I got lost in the process. But you know what, this is nothing new.

We start things and get lost in the process of doing them until we get so fed up we throw our hands up in the air and just say “screw it, I’m done!” But we aren’t done, because we don’t really want to be, we just want things to go back to how it was in the beginning before it got so complicated for no reason.

They say you need to go back in order to go forward. Sometimes this is true. Going back doesn’t really mean to start start from scratch, it just means you need to reassess how you got to where you are now so you know where to go in the future.

So I am reassessing this blog and many other things in my life and then I am going forward.

Good Intentions

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Ever go to bed the night before thinking of all the things you’re going to get done tomorrow and how productive you will be and then when tomorrow gets here you suddenly don’t have the stamina you though you would and your productivity is left wanting? This is like my everyday off. All I want to do is sleep, read, watch tv, or bike. None of which includes writing, selling my scripts, or building my website.

See that comic up top? That is like my everyday when it comes to writing. Sometimes I think that maybe if I were to change my surrounding environment that would help but I’ve worked from home, the library, coffee shops, restaurants, and the like. I think maybe I should cut myself off from social media and the internet completely but distractions come in other forms like cleaning my bathroom, or suddenly needing to clear that pile of papers on my desk, or discovering I am out of milk and therefore having to go to the store.

Good intentions are great but they are just that, intentions. Unless there is a purpose or actions behind them they are meaningless. I need to get back on track so that my intentions become actions and that I don’t just wish I will be productive tomorrow but know that I had been productive today.

Light Summer Reading?

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So I may have over done it with how many books I have checked out. Not only do I have a plethora of books in my tablet but I also have a plethora of physical books. See I discovered this thing called “Overdrive” where you can check out digital book from a library as long as you have a library card. You can check out as many as ten at a time. Guess how many I have checked out?

Now to be fair it wasn’t like I planned for this. Actually I had put a good amount of books on hold, you know when your like number 24 out of 50, and it just so happens that ALL of them came up at once. Now I have to hurry up and read them before they all expire and then have to go on the holds list again just to read them.

Ahh the trials of a poor bibliophile… so many books so little time.

Keep Your Writing Flowing

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As a writer I come up with stories all the time and frequently keep them in a notebook just to keep them straight. A lot of the time the stories are simply concepts or one liners that come to me, or even lines of dialogue that don’t really fit in anything else. But just because I create what I think are great ideas (at the time) it doesn’t necessarily mean that I follow through with those stories. Sometimes they remain just a line or two in my notebook and sometimes they evolve into something more.

The important thing about story creation is just allowing yourself to create the story. A lot of times I put pressure on myself to get things done by a certain time or try to force the story to come out. But the problem with that is sometimes the story suffers because of this pressure or I just want to stop writing altogether because it not longer seems fun. Writing isn’t always going to be fun and easy for me but if I lose sight of the enjoyment of it, it just becomes monotonous joyless work and that is the worst kind of work.

That’s being said here are some fun ways to keep the creative juices flowing:

  • Eat Something Delicious. Have you ever been upset with your writing while eating cheesecake or strawberries? Didn’t think so. Just be careful not to get those delicious things on your keyboard. Yeah… not fun.
  • Think Big PictureWhen I create a story I start by making index cards or checklist with the main plot points. I create the whole story with this. A lot of times I get frustrated with writing the more detailed stuff of stories like the what the scene looks like and what the characters are wearing. I come back and look at the big picture of the story and it helps me to get grounded again.
  • Reread What You Wrote. I know there are some cardinal rules out there about writing first and rereading once you finished. But sometimes I like to go back and read what I’ve done. It throws me from the writer seat into the reader seat. I get to the end and go “that’s it?!” then laugh because obviously I haven’t written anymore.
  • Take a Walk. There is a park by my house that I love to stroll through. There is something about it that moves my creative spirit. Find that place for you and visit it whenever you need a break.
  • Close Your Eyes. Not to sleep! But to imagine the story as it plays out. A lot of times I get trapped trying to keep up the details of the story. I’ll have five characters in a room and finish a scene only to realize I lost one of the characters in the story. They were there and then they disappeared. To keep track I stop and imagine myself viewing the story with as much detail as possible then translate that to the page.
  • Tell the Story to Someone Else. When you have to explain your story to someone you start to see the parts that are missing, especially when they ask questions about certain things. It’s easy to have the whole picture in your head but telling the story to someone else helps you to realize just how whole the picture is on paper.
  • Listen to Music.  Usually when I write a script I create a playlist of music that is specific to the feeling of that script. When I play the music it stirs emotions in me and I put that toward the script. It also helps me to stay focused in the moment of writing.

It important to find ways that help you keep your writing fresh for you, that way you finish can be just as strong as your start.

Got any other ways you keep creative juices flowing? Let me know below.

Image courtesy of winnond/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Ways to get Inspiration

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Even when I am not writing or working on a project I try to keep the creative juices flowing so that I can be open to ideas whenever they come to me. Which really can be in some of the strangest places. It’s amazing how many different ideas I get when I drive the same stretch of road everyday to work. The road and the path never changes yet something different happens causing me to think differently.

Here are a five things I do to keep those creative juices flowing.

1. Surf the net

This may sound a little counterintuitive considering that you are always told that surfing the net is a time waster, however if you do it with a sense of purpose that will change things. A lot of times I hop onto my computer to check my email, Facebook, and the like. But while I am doing that I am also keeping open to ideas whether it is through someone’s status, a funny meme, or a news report. I never know what is going to capture my attention and turn into a great idea.

2. Read everything

By this I truly mean everything. If you are in a doctor’s office waiting room read every sign, every plaque, every word on every surface. Everything. What’s really fun is reading it really fast in your head. It almost starts to make a weird sentence and then you piece things together that usually wouldn’t have fit.

3. Daydream

By this I don’t mean thinking about a beach vacation while you are stuck in a miserable winter state. Although fun, it’s not very productive. Daydream instead about where you see yourself in the future or if you are writing a story where you see your character going next. A lot of times before I write a story I will daydream it out first knowing how it is going to end and even go off on tangents that may not get written. But by doing this I’ve developed the story or the idea even further.

4. People watch/Observe

Did you know Walt Disney go the idea for the Disney theme parks after watching his kids play in a dilapidated theme park. After observing them and other families he thought to himself how great to would be to have a family centered place to go to that didn’t have the underlying seedy establishments as well. Thus came the idea for Disney theme parks. There are plenty of million dollar ideas out there, you just have to see them.

The other part of this is watching the habits and moments of people. Wonder what brought the person to this particular place today or if they are with someone how that happened. Listen in on conversations. Sometimes you need to get out of the perspective of your own world and hear another’s to understand how some people tick.

5.Talking

Conversations can bring me to the strangest places. Especially when talking with customers. I will meet the kind of people you really would think only existed on television. Sometimes after such a conversation I would think “man they would make a great character” it’s true. I’ve also had many conversations that have led to great ideas. Also they are just great motivators to keep you moving.

Jot it down!

Cultivating ideas are a great way to motivate and to create new projects but you have to write them down when you get them! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve kicked myself when I’ve had an idea that was great and then I lost it. Of course there are those times when ideas come and you’re not in a good place to jot them down like the shower or driving. In these instances I try to expand on the idea and keep it running in my head until I can then write it down.

What are some ways that you keep your creative flow moving?