I was reading this post at A Penchant for Paper and it really spoke to me. I have heard similar stories from a lot of people, how they start out a new year with a resolution to write in their journal every day, and round about this time that resolve starts to waver, and then they start skipping days, and then when they go back to it they feel so guilty about all the time they missed. By the end of February the whole project is abandoned.
I love what the writer did – broke the ice with her journal, much as you would a new friend, by talking about the weather or something happening in nature. Perfect. And then she focused on something positive. Again, perfect. I’m not saying your journal can’t be the venting place you need it to be; often the pages of your journal are the safest place to let off steam so you can compose your thoughts for the “real” conversation you are working towards. But the most important thing about journaling is to have fun doing it; otherwise, you won’t continue doing it. It’s the same philosophy around exercise or any other positive habit you want to introduce into your life: it’s gotta be fun.
In addition to the excellent tips in her post I have found the following trick keeps me guilt free: omitting the date on your journal entries. Now this is a controversial one because in the years to come you may want (need) to remember when a certain event happened. In those cases I do realize the date is important, so I put a date range at the beginning of each journal, to give me a general idea of when I put pen to paper. But each entry is undated, to allow me to write as much as I want on a given day but also to deal with writer’s block in a healthy way. We all get it sooner or later; those periods when the muse just takes a vacation and you really have nothing to say. I used to feel immense guilt when I would pick up my journal after a long absence and the last date was six months previous. How could I sum up what had happened during those six months? I was bursting to write about other stuff but somehow I felt I had to bridge that gap with some sort of summary statement. And I would get stuck and frustrated and sometimes I would abandon the whole effort. So when I started leaving the dates off I was no longer bothered by how long it had been between journal entries because I simply didn’t know. Perfect.