I’ve been a sporadic journaler all my life.
About once every three months, when inspiration struck, I’d seize my journal and dash out several pages. But most of the time, it sat on my shelf, collecting dust.
About six months ago, I decided it was time to start a daily journaling habit.
We’ve all heard that writing more frequently makes it easier to write more, and between my motorcycle blog, Copyblogger, and other personal projects, I wanted to see if I could activate that superpower in myself.
But that wasn’t the only hypothesis I wanted to test. I had been feeling overwhelmed, like time was flowing too quickly and it was all I could do to keep up.
In the inaugural entry of my daily habit, I wrote:
“I read that starting a new habit can help you re-center and slow down the passage of time … lately I’ve felt like I’ve been holding an oar down into the flow of time, trying to keep my raft from being whisked away too quickly.”
At the time, I was reading Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s The Distraction Addiction, and the book points out that “real time” technologies like email and text messaging have created a distorted view of how quickly we’re supposed to operate in the world.
Until recently, the flow of information and communication had strict physical limits. Mail and newspapers arrived once daily; phones only made one call at a time.
Now, we get push notifications, emails, texts, IMs, and phone calls every hour, sometimes simultaneously.
We’re expected to operate in “real time,” too — but what if “real time” is faster than “human time?”
When I read that habits can help you slow down, my neglected journal came to mind. Maybe a daily journaling habit would help me learn to slow down and hear myself think again …
Building a new habit
When I first started writing, the time and place were sporadic.
I wrote when I remembered to — morning, noon, or night. But slowly, I began to feel a pull toward writing first thing in the morning. By December 2017, a routine crystallized: wake up, make coffee, and sit down to write.
I sat in the same spot every day: the chaise part of our sectional, facing an east window.
As the sun rose, I wrote and sipped my coffee. On cold mornings, I nestled into my fuzzy, dark blue blanket and propped the journal on a pillow in my lap. I wrote with my favorite pens (0.5 mm Pilot G-2s) in my favorite unlined journals (bought at the bookstore down the road).
In the early days of this habit, it was often a struggle to summon the words to write on the page. Many entries from that time began, “Here I am, showing up to write.”
The phrase became an invocation, calling my muses to attention and reminding me that showing up was the important part.
So … how did it go?
Like a true data nerd, I went through my journals and documented how many pages I wrote each day.
And the data shows that I did, indeed, show up: of the…