Write Every Day
Friday, January 01, 2010
One of my clearest memories of my grandma Elsie's home: in her family room, she had hanging on her walls seemingly every single calendar she'd ever had. I'm not sure she ever removed any calendar. She'd just hang up the new one in a empty space. Most of them were cat-themed calendars, so you'd walk into her house and be met with hundreds of kitty eyes staring back at you.
I'm not 100% certain, but I think she turned the pages on all of those calendars, every month.
I always thought this was weird, but now that I am an adult I have to confess: I, too, cannot bring myself to throw away a calendar. Granted, they are kept in a standing folder in the office closet, out of sight, and not hung up everywhere. But I so understand the impulse. A calendar becomes a sort of journal, if you write things on it. I've got things like miles I ran, how much I weighed, funny things the kids have said, notes from doctor's appointments, to-do lists, and other things I wanted to remember for myriad reasons, all written on calendars.
I'm also learning that not everyone has this impulse to record and remember. It's more of an individual personality thing than it is a basic human trait. Still, I think lots of people like keeping track of the details of their lives. Witness, for example, the little flurry that began last year, fueled by Very Important Scrapbookers like Becky Higgins, to take a snapshot every single day as a way of keeping a personal record.
I tried to do the photo-a-day (PAD) thing. I liked the idea because it felt simple: just a picture every day, and write about it. I photographed things like us cleaning the toy room or organizing the boys' bookshelves; doctors appointments and desserts; kids playing and kids doing homework. I made it without any failures through all of January and part of February, and I love the little details I captured. But I kept getting frustrated, because it didn't often end up that the subject of my PAD reflected THE moment or experience I really wanted to capture. Either I always had my camera to my eye, trying to capture THE most important memory, or I didn't get THE photo and I'd just write down what I wanted to remember anyway.
I always go back to writing, it seems.
This year, I am trying something new. Especially because I have realized that, the longer I blog, the less I write in my journal. They may seem like the same thing, but they are not. My blog entries are more polished, structured, and thematic than my journal entries. My journal entries are more personal and private, less about writing well and more about figuring out stuff. They are both important, but I've neglected the journaling part.
This year, I'm doing an experiment. I am challenging myself to not miss a single day of writing. To write everyday. But, in the same spirit as the PAD: simple and straightforward. I am going back to the idea of a printed diary, only it's got limited space. Space for about three or four sentences, just enough to capture one or two specific things per day. I got this idea from a patron at the library, who told me about a set of books she'd inherited from the family farm. There was one for each year---dozens of them---small books with space for writing just a few facts about the day. Her great-great grandfather had written in them, little details like how much milk they got from the cows, or how much grain they harvested, but also things like "attended Uncle David's funeral" or "cousin Mary's baby born today."
It's probably silly on my part---that portion of my personality dedicated to keeping a record. But this idea makes me excited. I'm keeping my WED notebook right next to my bed, and imagine myself writing in it each night before bed. Just the one or two details from the day.
Of course, I am nothing like a Very Important Scrapbooker. But. I thought I'd share this idea, and the file I used for making my WED notebook. Just in case anyone else wants to join me. There's still the weekend to print it, and to get it bound---mine is waiting to be taken to the copy store for a spiral binding. I printed it double sided, so I can just flip the page each week. Simple, straightforward, and fast!
Here's the PDF:Download 2010 write every day calendar
And a little promise to update my WED progress on my blog, and maybe offer some writing suggestions, or insights, or whatever.
Love this idea! I get frustrated with journals because I feel I have to write a lot and capture everything. I'm going to WED this year too :) Also, we are two peas in a pod because I can't throw away calendars either. I moved to a white board calendar at home on the fridge and I hate every month when I have to erase it. Think I'll have to go back to a paper calendar.
Posted by: Chris Selander | Friday, January 01, 2010 at 10:16 PM
Thank you, Amy! Did you make the journal? It's great. I'm going to WED for me, but also make a copy to use as a biomedical/food diary for my little guy. THANK YOU!
Posted by: shelly a. | Friday, January 01, 2010 at 10:33 PM
Dear Amy--I think those blue bows are the bow-makers trying to make their wares acceptable to more buyers---isn't blue a big color for Hannukah? So everybody can use them.......bet the Jewish people get annoyed with how many red and green bows there are!!! I also love to use special paper and ribbon for the Santa gifts which are wrapped secretly and hidden until both kids (now 25 and 21) are in bed..then they go under the tree. The two are not taken in but always pretend to be suprised by the increased numbers of gifts. Happy New Year--xxKaren
Posted by: Karen Greenfield | Saturday, January 02, 2010 at 09:31 PM
I noticed my journaling being neglected, too, so I've renewed my writing efforts there, and it's been SO good for me.
I can't believe your writing and pictoral treasures I've missed while the computer's been down. So glad you gave in to the dare on that picture. :)
Also, Jewel's Joy cd is definitely one of my favorite Christmas cd's ever. Fantastic, isn't it?
Posted by: wendy | Sunday, January 03, 2010 at 09:48 PM
I can't throw calendars away either. I love going through my old calendar at the end of the year while I transfer birthdays and anniversaries. I used to love to see entries like "Dr. B, 10:00" (my ob). I miss those kinds of entries! But it's fun to go through the old one and see the day to day things we went through.
I think this year is the first year my calendar has gotten thrown away. Sad.
Posted by: becky | Monday, January 04, 2010 at 01:21 PM
I love this idea, Amy - thank you! I'm going to try it with you. I completely understand your need to record your life. I feel it too. Even though I have no children and therefore no posterity, I can't seem to help myself. Thank you for sharing your designed WED notebook.
Posted by: Judy | Monday, January 04, 2010 at 05:13 PM
Happy New Year, Amy!
Great idea. I'm using the Log Your Memory journal this year - but I've always been a WED sort of person, recording the events of the day in a diary of some sort every year since the mid 1990s. (Oh how I wish I'd started doing this earlier, and I would have noted down details that I can't now remember about my pregnancy and Ed's early years).
What I'm missing is the journalling part - the messy 'sorting stuff out' pages. So my intention this year is to keep up my WED for facts, but to write more about my feelings and thoughts. Maybe once a week? I could WOAW while you WED!
Posted by: Margot/NZ | Monday, January 04, 2010 at 06:11 PM
I really liked your format. Thanks for sharing. I thought it would be fun to randomly focus on different things each day like
" I know..." etc. just some thoughts as I explored your format and readied it for printing. THanks.
p.s. I noticed wendy's comment on your christmas music post and have been wanting to mention I love Natalie Merchants "children go" too. bought it last year. I liked that post too and meant to make my own christmas music post as well but turns out I didn't post a thing in December. crazy.
Posted by: jamie ` | Tuesday, January 05, 2010 at 02:40 PM
I used to write in my journal every day. This somehow stopped right around the time that Kate became more mobile. Which coincidentally was not long after I started blogging, too. I feel bad about that sometimes.
Posted by: Helena | Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 08:57 PM