Over the last 4 months I have written roughly 60,000 words in the form of a personal journal that spends 500 words each and every day documenting that day’s events. I started doing this exercise 8 months ago, and I am now on day 243 of it.
4 months ago I wrote a blog-post marking the third-way point of this entire endeavour, and made a note that I’d probably be back for another one at the two-thirds point. Well, here I am, and the truth is, I don’t have all that much more to say about all of this. In order for me to articulate the sheer quality of life improvements that writing a daily journal like this provides, I would have to be able to imagine what my life would be like if I wasn’t doing this. Honestly? I can’t do it. It sounds bizarre but I would absolutely be a different person if not for the introspection and self-care that this provides. Like I said before, in a way this makes me my own therapist, and it really feels like that sometimes.
I think what highlights the benefits of this the most is that when I was trying to find out what my life was like prior to doing this, I hit a brick wall, because all memories from that era are long lost to me, and there are almost no records of any part of my life back then. Even just in a time-frame of less than a year, the stuff that happened just before I started this is lost to the void of time. Years from now, I’m going to look back through my history, and there will be a point at which it simply stops. It almost makes me upset that I never began this sooner.
The way I’ve done this has evolved a lot over the past few months. For a while, I was writing out three goals that I wanted to accomplish the next day, and talking about those goals afterwards. It was novel, but it didn’t last long, because I honestly can’t accomplish that much stuff, and trying to force myself to do so just made things worse after a while. These days, I’m taking a different tactic to things, and it’s one that’s helping a lot: Whenever I haven’t done enough that day to warrant writing 500 words about it, I instead write out what little actually happened, and then turn to writing prose. Nothing in particular, just little pieces of flash fiction that I don’t put any thought into and leave with the minimal amount of effort. As a fledgeling writer, I’m always struggling with writers block, and having a small space where I can write with no consequences acts like a hammer in smashing that block.
In the end, the truth is, although I believe everyone could get something out of keeping a personal journal, the context of that journal is entirely dependent on what you’re good at. As a writer, a page of writing a day works wonders for me. It keeps the functional skills fresh, makes sure I can still formulate sentences even after periods of inactivity, and makes sure that I’m always writing, no matter how insignificant that writinmay be. The thing is, not everyone is a writer. Are you an artist? Maybe you’d get more out of scribbling a small comic every day, one where you express yourself in the loosest and most concise manner you can think of. Sure, it could be public, but I feel like making sure that these exercises are as consequence-free as possible is important. Hey, maybe you are a writer, but you want to focus on other parts of your skill-set. Maybe you could write a couple sentences a day on paper, and practice your calligraphy in the process.
My point is, nothing I’m saying is original. This isn’t some groundbreaking truth that I’ve magically discovered on my own, this is the simple concept of practice turned into something I think everyone can accomplish. It’s true, the fact that I’m writing 500 words a day isn’t automatically making me a better writer. You can’t just get better at a skill by repeating it again and again without examining your methods. What this does provide, however, is a foothold. Writing 500 words a day gives me just that little bit of practice it takes to make sure that I never slip too far. It’s a problem I was having for a long time, and sometimes I came back to writing and discovered that I could barely touch-type.
Do the bare minimum of what you do to make sure the cruft gets scraped off of your skill-set daily. Give yourself a stable foundation from which to grow from. Write 500 words a day, or do whatever it is that’s going to stabilise the skills you care about the most, and just keep going, no matter what.