I’m getting ready to write something important to me and, of course, that means I’m procrastinating. A nicer way to look at it is that I’m attacking the beast from the side.
After several weeks of a trickling work flow, I called a stop and told myself to go back to doing something a little productive, and less daunting.
I have a stack of hand-written semi-professional writing journals spanning roughly the last 5 years that need transcription into an e-form. Why?
- Find and Destroy evidence of any stupidity.
- Salvage any ideas that I can develop.
- Retain a relevant chronicle of myself – the stuff that I think will be important for me to remember in years to come, even if it means keeping some of my stupidity.
- Purge the remaining fluff.
Transcribing old journals is like cleaning out and reorganizing your closet. What kind of closet you have depends on what kind of journal you keep. Is it for a specific project? Is it emotional therapy? Stream-of-consciousness? The main purpose of a journal for this writer is to observe my day for anything I might be able to grow as an idea. That’s the goal. Usually starts with ranting.
So, transcribing journals is a good job to take on while I’m procrastinating. It can lead to a forgotten idea or lead me back to the roots of my current ideas. There is a high risk of wallowing in the past while transcribing and I need to be mindful not to linger anywhere too long; try to look at the content with detachment. If a good idea from the past cannot help me look at my present or future with some difference, such ideas are impossible to activate and therefore useless baubles.
Yesterday, I was digging through 2014, dealing with the mind of a girl trying to hammer out a small book of poems – and as always, herself. I had some funny moments during the transcription. One where I thought I was brilliant. Declared myself my own biggest fan – which I know is a very small club – but was proud to lead, at least, yesterday. It’s a great feeling to not recognize something that I wrote and to think, ‘Hey, that was pretty good!”
And then there were the many other moments when I thought I sounded and looked (due to the quality of the handwriting) like a lunatic. Must have been my stream of consciousness exercises where I was just throwing out things that came to mind without any context. Thinking of George Harrison from the Beatles when I write that. He said in an interview that after taking LSD he realized expanding his mind through chemicals was limited and there had to be a better way without them. And if a Beatle said that, then you know it must be true … (just kidding). My point is that journaling is a very healthy and chemical-free way of not so much expanding your mind but exploring your mind, your subconscious and your soul – if you believe in that sort of thing. Go as far out as you want.
Through journaling, I’ve had a life-long and close friendship with myself which I believe translates into stronger self-awareness than people who don’t. Through transcribing this friendship, I return to lessons I’ve forgotten, and as a result, I don’t need to wonder why I continue to repeat into my present day. But it’s not just a nice feeling — it’s a useful feeling — to find that I can still respect and enjoy where I have been despite my mistakes.
Photo by Xiang Gao on Unsplash