Day One has helped journaling become a natural habit for me, and that habit has paid off. The tremendous time, effort, and dedication has helped create something of immense value to me.
It isn’t without its occasional hiccups though. There are still times when I just can’t journal—no matter what I try to write—things just don’t flow. Some personal journalers might deem that a bad thing, or assume their journaling days are over. Some might even force themselves to journal, leading to sub-par, made-up entries.
What I choose to do is… stop journaling. Yes, you heard me right. I stop journaling for a couple of weeks. I let my mind take a break and wander by itself.
I always know that I’m not quitting journaling forever—it is just a necessary hiatus forced by something out of my control.
Something I faced was a flood of questions when I decided to resume writing. What should I write? Should I just resume normal entries and ignore the drought period? Should I jot down a bullet-point summary of important things that happened since I’d last journaled? How do I overcome my writer’s block?
As I pondered this problem, I remembered something that helped me solve this whole conundrum: the US President’s State of the Union address. Instead of briefing the nation everyday on all affairs, the President does so every now and then, providing an overview of what has happened in the previous months.
According to the Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution the President:
Shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
Why not do the same for journaling? In my mind, the steps for creating such a summary entry would go along these lines:
1) Acknowledge the hiatus on the date you chose to start it. (e.g. “Journal Break starting today due to work reasons. No time to journal.”)
2) State the facts or exactly what important things happened during the hiatus. Bullet points would be acceptable and even preferred. (e.g. “My son started walking. I broke my leg.”)
3) Analyze the facts. Look at what happened from Step 2 and try to remember how you felt about those things. Though this might be hard, having major occurrences listed will probably trigger some feelings. (e.g. “There are very few moments compared to watching my son walk. One of the best moments of my life.”)
4) Divide if Needed. If you are overwhelmed by facts and feelings, sometimes it is good to divide the two steps above into different categories or segments of your life (e.g. Personal, Work, or Family).
I often end up with huge entries during this process of retracing my life and catching up in my journal, but it’s always worth it.