It’s simple, but difficult — as most good things are.
On Christmas Day 2010, the first day of my honeymoon, I wrote my first journal entry, starting a streak of daily journaling that has lasted 10 years.
A few months into my journaling, Day One came along and became its home (I backfilled the entries from those few months).
This is my first entry from the 10-year streak:
It was what you’d expect from someone who just spent an entire day on a plane (and was told much better in my photos). It wasn’t meant to be poetic. It was meant to be the start of a habit.
I thought if I could push myself to write every night for a month, I could keep journaling forever. So, whether it was one sentence, or five paragraphs, I wrote in that journal every night.
There were no rules about content. There were no templates, no reminders, no prompts or notifications of any kind. The sole constraint — and balance of constraints means everything in writing — was to write something, anything, every day.
Also, I pledged to myself that this journal will die someday with me. No one else will ever have access to it. I must be free to unload everything, be in the present, and let go of the notion of legacy.
Sometimes, I would discover something profound about myself and star that entry. Most of the time, I just wrote enough about the day to unload my exhausted mind before drifting off to sleep.
That’s it. Once the habit was established, 10 years went by like nothing.
If you’d like to do the same, I’d recommend a few things:
- Set realistic constraints, for your unique brain, to get the habit established. Then, only when you feel like it, go deep.
- Use Day One. It’s built for this and pretty much any constraint you want to throw at your brain.
- Get the Day One course from The Sweet Setup.
- If you’re not writing every day, try more constraints, not more technology.
- Write for yourself. You wouldn’t meditate for the entertainment of others, and this is no different.
- Lower your expectations. Journaling can have massive benefits, but expecting them is a sure way break the habit. (This is also true of meditation, blogging, publishing, and creation in general.)
- Just write.