Just Start

Every time that I start a project, I doubt myself. I look at projects that I have finished and try to deconstruct them. How did I do it? How did it all fit together? I ask myself these questions as if I had not been in the room during the making. It’s sometimes tempting to copy my past work. I can see it turned out well, it seems safer to repeat myself.

I never do this, but I think about it every single time I sit down to make something new.

It doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes as I approach the finish line, I hate the project. Sometimes I put it away for a while. Sometimes a long while.

But a funny thing happens when I pull it out. It’s not so bad, I think. Sometimes I think, “This is damn good.” And yes, I even think about copying work that I once soundly rejected.

Seeing this pattern, I now know to watch for it. I say to my doubting self, “Trust the process” and “Be okay with failing.”

I try to laugh at the temptation to reverse engineer my own work.

And then I say: “Just start.”

My love-hate relationship with journaling

To be candid, my relationship with journaling has been a relationship heavy on the hate side of the equation.

Don’t get me wrong; I like the idea of journaling. The anticipation of writing down cogent ideas that perfectly capture life, the universe, and everything: who doesn’t want that?

But this being human thing isn’t always pretty, and it’s taken me a long time to realize that journaling the mess can be, well, messy.

After some false starts, I finally discovered a journaling method and tools that work for me.

My tools:

  • A composition book
  • A FriXion erasable pen

I love beautiful journals. But I don’t want to mess them up with my scribblings. So they sit pristinely on the shelf, never realizing their potential. So this is a problem. I have been using composition books for note-taking for a while. I like them because they are inexpensive and recyclable/biodegradable. So I decided to give one a try for journaling, and I am happy to report I filled the first one in just over six months. Also, at back-to-school time, there are hundreds of styles available.

Okay, the truth is I like writing with pens, but I hate making mistakes, especially in a journal. I don’t want to mess things up. What is the origin of this feeling? I have no idea. I finally decided to own the feeling and work with it. FriXion pens are the perfect solution for me. I like the way they feel, and they come in lots of colors. A word of caution: FriXion pens are also disappearing ink pens. Add heat and poof! Your words will disappear. This quality makes FiXion pens fantastic for quilting but not for archival writing! So if you are writing for the ages, this might not be the right pen choice for you.

I try to write every day, even if it’s just five words. The five-word tip was passed on by Jessica Brody in her Conquering Writer’s Block class on Udemy, which I recommend. I don’t always write every day, but I write a lot more than I used to! I’m filling journals, people. That’s a win!

Leveling up

This month I added a couple of new specialty journals to the lineup. I have one for my creative work. I use it to track progress on creative projects, which is motivating, and it keeps me honest. I also have a health journal to track what I eat, exercise, how I feel. It’s helpful in tweaking things like coffee consumption, sleep, and diet. I also added a Work and Career journal to think through my strengths and where I want to go in my work life. Four journals seems a bit crazy, but the secret is to shoot for updates or log entries (as explained by Austin Kleon).

Take the next step!

There’s still time to browse the back-to-school aisles at your favorite store and pick up a composition book that speaks to you.