Ah, January. The month I switch Bath & Body fragrances (from Midnight Pomegranate to Twilight Woods), and get all sorts of inspired to do little household projects (like reorganizing cluttered kitchen cupboards, cleaning closets, and sorting my bookshelves), and try to make positive changes (probably after two months of being a potato I should start exercising again, yes?). It's a month that inspires fresh starts and resolutions.
One of the goals I will be revisiting this year (who am I kidding? I am always revisiting this goal) is the one of writing every day. This is a binary system of goals: writing for publication (perhaps this will finally be the year I am noticed?) and writing for getting down memories. The publication part is an entirely different post—this one is focusing on the memory part.
Last year I introduced my W. E. D. concept. The basic concept is similar to taking a photo every day, except for this one you do with words. I've managed to fulfill my goal of writing every day in my WED notebook and I am in love with the things I have recorded, many of which would have been forgotten. Funny things said by kids and other family members; bits and pieces of conversations; ideas for blog posts. I've written down my reactions to TV shows, or the title of a song I caught on the radio while brushing my teeth before bed; little reminders of things to do tomorrow, snippets of dreams, feelings I didn't want to forget (both negative and positive!). I've striven to get down the essence of a day into words. Writing in my W.E.D. notebook became not about writing well so much as writing exactly, using words to communicate one important thing.
I've learned many things from my W.E.D. experiment, but the one I think will linger the most is this: the key to sticking to a goal is to simplify it as much as possible. Especially when we set our scrapbooker side to something, it's easy to make it complicated—to make it about the products & the pretty paper & finding the perfect pen. The Write Every Day notebook strips all of that away. It isn't fancy or complicated; it's simple and utilitarian. Once you print and bind it, you're finished. Your pen doesn't have to be archival or special in any way. You just pick up your notebook every day and write a little bit.
That "little bit" is important, too. The notebook doesn't have a ton of space each day. Just enough for three or four sentences (depending on your handwriting, of course!). Having a small space to fill helps you overcome some of the fear wrapped up in writing. You don't have to start with the history of everything. You don't have to tell an entire story. You don't have to fill an entire blank page. Just a friendly little rectangle. You fill it up with the thing that felt most important that day, and then you move on.
One last thing I loved about this process: using my own handwriting. Truly, my handwriting is awful. It's not quirky-cute at all. It's uneven and random and rough. But seeing pages of it again (after years of blogging and journaling on my computer) feels more personal—feels more like me caught on paper.
Suffice it to say, I am doing this process again this year. I imagine I'll do it every year! If you'd like to join me, here's how:
- Download the 2011 WED calendar: Download 2011 write every day calendar
- Print it double sided. If you're not lucky enough to own a printer that does that for you, simply print the odd pages first, then re-feed them and print the even pages on the back. (Test this out on your printer first, since they all feed paper differently. Make sure you're printing the right week on the correct back!)
- Pick two cardstocks or thicker patterned papers you love. Double sided papers are awesome here! One will be the front, the other the back.
- Take this all to a copy store and have them spiral bind it for you. (Unless you own a coil binder. Then you can do it yourself.)
- Write. Every day!
I write in my W.E.D. every night before I go to bed. There were a few nights last year I forgot, or was just too tired, but not many—fewer than 20 in the entire year, I think. When that happened, I wrote first thing the next morning. I kept it in the table by my bed, with a handful of pens. Now it's stored with the rest of my handwritten journals, and 2011 has taken its place.