The bliss of short, random thoughts
A good way for creating new writings is to keep a note pad by the bed at night. The thing is for me it is not going to happen. There is no way I am going to bring myself to be fully awake to write something down. It is the best writing idea that I will never use.
Second place, and now number one, is a diary. At least that is what I used to call it. Dear diary didn’t work for me until I called it a journal. What follows is an ode to a journal.
Best I can tell, I equate journaling with how I imagine a war correspondent. It makes me feel I am writing with courage under fire. Most of the time this is true. The battles of my writing certainly include psychological foes, like fear and procrastination.
Twitter is my second best writing tool. Twitter has brought me to realize how much I like brevity. It also provides me consistency and works in tandem with my journaling.
My analogy for those who don’t use Twitter is if you think of yourself as a conservative and find out there are people who think you are too liberal, or vice a versa. Twitter’s revelation is to think you write with great brevity until Twitter insists you write it in 140 characters or less.
Twitter has taken away my guilt about writing short journal entries. Brevity encourages me to journal every day. As a result, much of what I journal I bring into articles or stories.
Here are a few examples. Random entry number one; “Sitting in a square circle, we each had name tags. I have come to the point where I wish we had name tags all the time, especially beyond the circles.”
I have always remembered dogs’ names and what and where I ate for dinner. All of which is of no practical use because I seldom circle with dogs or at dinner.
Random journal entry two; “The day of the week I have least to journal is on Sunday. I think because the day before I stayed at home to work on a sermon. Proof positive that writing needs communion. Wait, how do I write a sermon on a day with so little information?”
This entry is a reminder that when my introverted side takes over, I need to get out to meet and greet. Reading these words pushes me out the door.
At other times I need a journal entry that keeps me home. The pendulum swings too far and my desk time suffers from my being out and about.
Random journal entry number three; “Yesterday I made my first trip to a nursing home as an ombudsman. Solving things for residents. I think I like chaplaincy better. We just listen.”
This dichotomy of ombudsman versus chaplain is a work in progress. I want to be an ombudsman to see things in nursing homes I would not see as chaplain. Problem is that chaplaincy training tempered my propensity to solve. I have learned to listen and then be quiet.
These three unrelated entries and my reactions to them later are examples of how journaling about my experiences is helpful. Journaling is broad form of taking notes, notes on life. It is an out of body experience.
Through journaling, I have come to communicate better with self and others. Without it even the obvious eludes me. This is the bliss of journaling. Maybe I shouldn’t call it bliss, but growth.
Bob Ritchie is pastor of Bennington Congregational Church and a regular contributor.