For years, I’ve tried to discipline myself to write regularly in a journal. I’ve bought beautiful, leather-bound journals and expensive pens, hoping that these treats would encourage my writing. I always filled the first page, at least, but the journals invariably ended up on a shelf, accumulating dust instead of ink. My excuses were usually the same: I just don’t have enough time right now; I’ll do it later. But later always turned into never.
Recently, I got laid off. And while going through this difficult time, I struggled to decide whether I was brave enough to switch careers and pursue a profession I’d always been drawn to.
My subconscious kept whispering, Write. Just write. But all my efforts to write before going to bed failed miserably. After being wrapped up in my tiresome thoughts all day, the last thing I felt like doing was revisiting them before falling asleep.
A friend suggested I try writing in the morning instead. So I set my alarm clock 30 minutes earlier and committed myself to writing three pages each morning—no matter how busy I was. I also chose a simple, lined notebook after realizing that the leather-bound journals overwhelmed me, pressuring me to create contents as beautiful as the leather that bound them.
I decided that it didn’t matter what I wrote—the important thing was that I was writing. My first few efforts resulted in repetitive scribbles about the fact that I had no idea what to compose: “I’m not sure what to say. . . . Still not sure. . . .”
But after those first few days, something inside of me let go. My dreams, my fears, and my uncertainties began flowing from the protected field of my heart to the open fields of paper. Soon I was quickly scribbling through my three pages each morning while sipping coffee.
Furthermore, my worries stayed glued to the pages instead of preoccupying my mind all day. The new, lasting focus I found through journaling more than offset the effort of getting up earlier each day. Since starting this practice five months ago, I have finished four notebooks. And through it, I’ve found the necessary balance and courage to stray from the humdrum “steady” course and pursue what is in my heart.