Whether it's subconscious or not, we filter the story we tell of our past. Through retellings, details get lost. We look at where we are and downplay what it took to get here. We forget what it felt like to be standing at the precipice wondering if we'd make it to the other side. Only journals allow true reflection; that's why it's important we make time in our schedule.
This past Fall cubes and I had the opportunity to hear Rene Redzepi, chef responsible for Noma, on his book tour. What drew me to hear him speak? Not his food, but rather his topic. Creativity.
Rene Redzepi on Intuition and The Creative Process
I had grown up believing making food was an exercise in creativity. I was fascinated; I wanted to hear a world renown chef's opinion. So we stood outside the Castro in the rain waiting for the doors to open to get a good seat. (We brought snacks -- gluten free crackers, Ruby's Great Grains Rosemary Golden Raisin crackers, and a variety of cheeses from Lucca's -- and friends brought wine.)
Two things Rene said over the course of the night stuck with me:
- "Intuition needs to come from somewhere. It doesn't just happen. It requires work."
- "It's the process that's interesting, not the end."
Journaling as Part of The Creative Process
I hadn't fully looked at Rene's book René Redzepi: A Work in Progress (*affiliate link) before I bought it along with my ticket. It was as they handed me a stack of three books, that I realized this wasn't a typical chef's coffee table book. It was when he started reading selected entries from his journal about his fears, about what he didn't feel comfortable sharing, that I got the idea to restart a daily journal. I wouldn't execute on this idea.
I got the idea again in late December from Hilary Rushford after reading her ebook, The Four Part Entrepreneur Cocktail. And even lumped it into one of my personal objectives for 2014. But, I didn't manage to actually find time for this practice.
It's not because I haven't wanted to or haven't had the desire. Time just seemed to get away from me. Watching the first session from Marie Forleo in preparation for the start of B-School, "The Follow Through Formula," a light bulb went on: "If it isn't scheduled, it isn't real." (Journaling is now scheduled on my calendar.)
90 Days of Journaling
For the next 90 days, I'm going to be keeping a journal. It will be an exercise unlike one I've undertaken before. With limited time, I'd "replaced" journaling with blogging, but blogging is not the same thing as journaling. With blogging, you're mostly putting your best foot forward. You're downplaying fears even when you're sharing them. For this project, I won't be substituting a journal entry with a blog post.
I last kept a journal in the late-oughts immediately after a company I was working for was successfully acquired and all non-essential (i.e. anyone without developer in their title) was let go. Before that the summer of my MBA internship. Before that my last two years at Santa Clara University through the year following graduation. And before that at the request of a mentor during a high school internship.
Some of the journals were sanitized; I had roommates or was in relationships where I was the strong one, the one who had everything figured out. I had appearances to keep up.
Why journal now? Because I'm revisiting the business I was thinking of back in December 2012 and building in July 2013. An endeavor that I sidelined because I let fears get the best of me. I'd forgotten until I read older journal entries that I had these fears before I just chose to face them then. So I'm journaling to process those fears rather than let them consume me or tempt me with an endeavor that's more comfortable.
This journal won't be sanitized. Why? Because fears have a place. If we sugarcoat them, the next time we have to take a leap we might not remember that we faced similar demons before and decided to jump any way.
Tips for Starting a Journaling Practice
- Determine how often you're going to journal. Daily? Just during the week? Only once a week.
- Get a binder or journal in which you can write, draw, and/or scrapbook. How you want to record what you're doing and feeling is up to you. Journaling doesn't have to be a costly endeavor; one of my early journals was on the backs of envelopes stapled together. Rene's published journal pairs his handwritten journal entries with snapshots (you could use Instagrams) of what's happening.
- Don't edit or critique yourself. Journaling isn't about perfection. It's about getting down what's happening, how you're feeling, and what you're planning. The spelling and grammar police won't be reviewing your work.
- Schedule time for journaling in your calendar. Pick a consistent time. One that works best for how you process your day. If you're not sure, choose a time, try it for a week or two, then pick another time and try it for a week or two. Of the times you try, pick the one where you're able to close the door from distractions and really focus. You want a period of time where you won't be interrupted every second.
- Set a regular interval after which you're going to go back through and reflect on what's in your journal. Patterns you might not be aware of can become clear when you're journaling regularly.
Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
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