I have always loved to write. I would copy entries from the encyclopedia with my gel pens on legal pads to practice my handwriting. Super sensitive information like a definitive listing of my favorite Backstreet Boys songs at that given moment could be found in my purple diary. It had a lock, of course. What I didn't realize at the time were Rugrats and Powerpuff Girls fanfiction stories took up residence in various Mead and Five-Star wide ruled notebooks. The top of my right ring finger was constantly calloused because I NEVER PUT MY PEN DOWN. By the time I hit third grade, my journal/diary/notebook collection filled up nearly an entire bookshelf, and I only started whittling it down when I discovered my need to collect CDs.
Next up: a series of composition notebooks with stories, magazine clippings, illustrated ice skating routines, trumpet exercises... essentially a play-by-play of my entire middle school experience, high on faux-angst and drama. They were lost in the shuffle during the move from my childhood home a few years ago and I'm still in mourning. After that era, it was on to Xanga, LiveJournal, and simply opening up Word documents and letting my fingers dance across the keyboard. In college, likely since the majority of my note-taking was done on my laptop, writing in a physical journal again felt like I was getting in back touch with an old friend. I would fill up fancy lil things from Paper Source and silently flip if I made a mistake or my cursive got sloppy. Some entries were addressed to God or Jesus or Future Husband or Future Me. Most were addressed to Me At That Present Moment, though, and had nice openers such as "STOP BEING SUCH A SHITHEAD" scrawled out in huge bubble letters. Self love, y'all. Sup.
Aside from my online blogging stints, I often found it hard to be truly authentic and use my own voice even in my own journals. I was often writing as the person I wanted to be, and confessed the feelings I wanted to feel. It was sad. In a way, I was trying to rewrite my own history to an audience of one.
I turned twenty-four last weekend. Twenty-three was a hard year for me, but also very freeing. Considering I can recall rolling around in the words "this year has been hard" since 2013, I think I need to get out of my own way and embrace it all. Show up. One of my goals for this year is to write often and write honestly - in journals, in letters, on my blog.
Here's how I plan to Show Up this year, in writing and beyond:
Morning Pages. Three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, preferably very first thing in the morning. This exercise declutters your brain, helps you prioritize, and may be the starting point of some new fresh ideas. Creator Julia Cameron calls it "the bedrock tool of creative recovery". Do it with me, it's fun!!!!!! If you can't commit to three whole pages, start with three songs' worth of writing. I grew accustomed to this on my youth group service trips in high school. We would begin Devotions every night this way, and it has stayed with me for nearly ten years. That's 'a-whole-nother' post, as nine-year-old me would say. But really, it's in my drafts. Meanwhile, I made a thing to get you started:
Bullet Journaling. I do not have enough good things to say about this technique. The Bullet Journal is a "customizable and forgiving organization system", and it is a LIFE. CHANGER. I am very used to writing in one journal at a time, interrupting a deep thought mid-sentence to go into a checklist of things I have to buy at Target the next day. NO LONGER. So many things to say regarding the BuJo. It will have its time to shine on da blawg soon. Check out the Bullet Journal website here to get learnt up.
Between Morning Pages for the honest and no-frills 'HI I'M HERE' writing, and my Bullet for an original and customized take on a planner, I am feeling way more combobulated. That's not a word, but you knew what I meant, didn't you? Thought so. I feel like I have so much more brain space since incorporating these two tools into my daily life.
Be a better listener. We can all be better listeners. This is important and I do not believe I'll ever reach a point where I'm finished growing in this department.
Live like Kermit. "What others think and have to say about you is none of your business." [SIPS TEA]. Honestly though, it's easier to SHOW UP when you're not so dang self-conscious. Spotlight effect. Do your thang.
Notification-free living. Last week I turned off all notifications on my phone. All of them. Push notifications, sound alerts, banners. Not a single red circle with a number lives in my phone now. It took a day or two to adjust, but now I don't think I'll ever go back. My phone is now a telephone with some cool features IF I SO CHOOSE TO USE THEM. And I do choose to use them, don't get it twisted. I posted a 130-second Snap story this weekend. Nobody's perfect. BABY STEPS. Silicon Valley was not built in a day.
Read more. Writers are readers. I don't know what else to add.