HOW TO KEEP A MINDFULNESS DIARY
It’s all well and good waiting around for inspiration to strike, but there’s a fair chance you’ll be waiting around forever. While we’d all like for our diaries to be full of amazingly profound passages, the reality is that those are few and far between. Rather, sticking to a timetable of convenient times – though far be it from us to suggest when those may be – will at least ensure you’re getting something down every day. And guess what? Once the critic in you relaxes a little, you’ll find that what you forced yourself to write isn’t half bad. Struggling with this one? Try starting with a ritual. It can be as simple as making a cup of tea, just as long as it helps you make that all-important transition into your writing.
As suggested above, slowly but surely, you’ll find that you’re starting to find your voice. Don’t worry if it’s not high art, that’s not the point of a mindfulness diary. What’s important is that you’re getting your thoughts out of your head and on to the page. The same goes for if you miss out a day or two for whatever reason. It can be far too tempting to decide to write off the whole exercise at this point, but we implore you to keep going. Practice makes perfect, after all.
Not every page has to include a grand revelation or unforgettable anecdote either. While those things obviously make for exciting reading, we’ve read many published diaries (namely those of Michael Palin, Nina Stibbe and David Sedaris) which comprise some of the best of the genre despite any lack of great adventure. Rather, it’s precisely their ability to relish the small stuff, from a particularly delicious breakfast to an encounter in an antique shop, which make their entries sing with positivity. We recommend taking a page out of their book and penning even the smallest of observations.
If you’re worried about recording the same entry time and time again, why not seek inspiration from some of the great writers of the last 100 years? Famous beat writer Jack Kerouac, for example, practiced what he called sketch writing: 5-10 minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing, free of any rules of grammar or logic, and free of hang-ups about what’s good and what’s bad. Afterwards, you can go back to it and try to piece it together, often resulting in the appearance of thoughts that were buried deep in your subconscious. William Boroughs, similarly, would cut up and redistribute snippets of old newspaper to form nonsensical yet oddly profound poetry – something later adopted by musical innovator David Bowie. If it’s good enough for the thin white duke, it’s good enough for us.
Last but not least, don’t despair if things aren’t going your way. Try to remember the reasons why you wanted to start a mindfulness diary in the first place. Granted, the exercise should be a tonic, so if it starts to feel like a chore, maybe you’re right to put it to one side. But more often than not, those who stick with it are glad they did. The reward of consistently freeing your mind greatly outweighs the effort of scribbling down a few thoughts for a few minutes per night.