Taking the Time to Remember


Someone once told me that the older you get the faster time goes by. Every passing year seems to make this statement truer than ever. We often try to figure out how long ago something occurred and realizing that it was longer ago than we thought, we say, "Wow! Time flies, huh?"

The speed of time can often make us feel that our lives are out of our own control. Life doesn't seem to slow down long enough to let us exert intention and control over how we spend our time. This makes the future come so quick that we don't formulate a plan in time to handle it. It also makes the past seem so distant that we fail to reflect upon what has happened to us. Both planning and reflecting require intentional effort.

My own lack of reflection upon life has been troubling me lately. One of my New Year's resolutions for the past few years has been to keep a more consistent journal. While trying to figure out why making this a regular practice has been so difficult, I've been reaching a realization. I'm a big fan of social media and the ways that it brings us together but one of its downsides is the way that we begin to process life through primarily through the lens of what might be interesting to others. We are more likely to spend time crafting our experiences into tweets and status updates than we are into sitting down long enough to truly capture the experiences of our lives in words meant only for our own learning and review.

Writing For a Journal or a Blog?

Reexamining how I process my experiences and memories has updated my approach. Every time something occurs to me that I want to write about, I'm capturing the idea in an app on my phone called OmniFocus. I then ask myself three questions. First, is this writing primarily for my own memory or to share with others? This will determine which list I put the idea into. It has also been helpful to capture at least a few sentences on what my thoughts are on the matter and why I want to write about it. This keeps me from staring at the topic later on and wondering why I wanted to write about it.

Is This Worth Editing and Sharing?

The second question I ask is for the writing topics that are for my own memory. After writing in my journal about it would this experience make sense to edit into a blog post that I could share with others? This allows me to first focus on capturing the experience in a more complete way that is meant only for my journal. Then I can reprocess and write it out for others if it seems applicable. Too many of experiences have only been captured for a blog.

When and Where am I Going to Write?

The third question is when am I going to write about the items on my list? I've found that it helps me to focus if I schedule separate times for writing in my journal and updating my blog. This helps me to mentally prepare myself so that when the time comes I don't sit there trying to figure out what to write about. Like everything else important, taking the time to keep a journal or update a blog simply needs to be scheduled into my day for me to get it done. I've long hoped for good habits to make their way into my regular practice but it is only since I began scheduling them ahead of time that they've made inroads into my attention.

I tend to get the most writing done if I plan to do so at a coffee shop with a limited amount of time. I'm writing this at the Republic of Pie in North Hollywood over some of the best coffee in the San Fernando Valley. I only have another 15 minutes so I'm focused on finishing this post. If I give myself a 4 hour block, however, I will tend to tinker around with my blog design and try to figure what I should write about for too long.

I'm learning through this evolving approach to be more intentional about what I'm going to write about so that when the time comes I'm ready to make the most of it. This journey is not primarily about writing but about taking the time to remember and learn from life's experiences. How do you keep yourself focused on writing for a journal, blog or both? What is your process? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.