Dear Diary (How To Best Start and Keep A Journal)

Have you ever tried free writing before, dear readers? It’s a technique where you write continuously over a set period of time, ignoring the majority of the typical conventions of writing – The purpose for free writing is not to produce great content, though that can potentially be a by-product, but rather to address self-esteem and internal criticism.

I’ve tried it a few times before myself, but I’ve found that writing a blog works to that end as well and is even better because of the regularity involved with the creative process. Because whether you believe it or not, what you are reading right now is not the first draft, it’s more like the 6th or 7th version of this post.

For those of you who do not pre-date the internet, a journal used to be the main method of delivery when it came to combining free writing with purpose. Though in many ways the blog has effectively replaced that practice. Or has it?

Now just hang on a tick, I know what you’re thinking.

Keeping a journal seems like one of those monumental tasks which will eat into your personal time and which is mostly self-gratifying. But the reality is that there is no right or wrong way to do it, and it will help provide value in a number of ways

Don’t believe me? Let’s list some reasons off really quick.

  1. Greater focus and organization skills (ie. to do lists and goals)
  2. A record of past achievements and milestones
  3. Emotion management and stress reduction
  4. Reflection time which leads to self-discovery
  5. Perspective on your own thoughts and feelings
  6. Cathartic release from trauma
  7. Alleviate negative effects of stress and strengthen your body
  8. Working memory improvement
  9. Creativity becomes more common
  10. Thinking about and articulating the next step in the plan
  11. Becoming inspired beyond the obvious and intentional in all work
  12. Accountability for our actions
  13. Inspiration for ourselves and others

Yeah, and that’s just a short list. I read somewhere between 10-15 articles in preparation of this Wisdom Wednesday post, and I just thought those examples were really solid.

The truth is this, journals help facilitate personal growth. To quote this article:

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes a journal such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

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I initially wanted to start this post by pointing out that writing a journal is something that successful people do. It’s not just for hormonal teenagers or those beset by grief and cats.

For example, Mark Twain, Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath, George Lucas, Virginia Woolf, Ludwig van Beethoven, Frida Kahlo, Marilyn Monroe, Courtney Love, Pablo Picasso, Agatha Christie, and Leonardo da Vinci are just SOME of the examples of creative people who regularly journal/journaled.

Of course, there are also tons of articles out there that will tell you how you should get started and how you should keep up the habit of journaling. I’m going to tell straight up that you shouldn’t worry so much about the details of writing at this point, but rather, you should figure out when you are going to do it, then build some good habits to ensure you keep at it.

And if you really want a detailed how-to, this wiki will do the trick.

If your journal features content from other sources, so be it. You might find that source material is a great jumping off point or a good visual reminder for the period down the road when you revisiting your work and want to reflect on ideas.

Another good habit to get into is to have a log with each entry so that you know where you were when you wrote, the time of day, and the calendar date. The details will help solidify the moment in time and allow you to only focus on the current event(s), which will be great when reading previous entries – And besides, if you only stick to the negative things or the major milestones you’ll run out of ideas quickly.

The biggest thing to keep in mind though is that it’s not your responsibility to fill in the gaps if you take a break from writing, whether its for a day or a month, resume with the day you’re in and the stuff you’ve forgotten about or missed recording will crop up.

Lastly, if you can figure out a way to personalize the diary with a unique cover (collages, stickers or drawings) that will also help down the road. And consider including “if found” information at the front in the event the journal is lost, after all, this is not a blog and it could get lost.

Okay one more cool thing, you might want to hide your journal from prying eyes, so consider a hollowed out book for storage, because that’s super cool.

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And now I’m out of theories, so keep it cool and I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!

How To Stay On Topic AND Be Topical (The Reading List)

Reading is cathartic, sharpens your mind, and expands your world. How it manages to do all of this is kind of amazing, but I’ve written about that before (see here, here, and here for recent examples), and it’s not really what this timely Thursday post is really about.

This entry is about another of my lifestyle goals as a cultivator of the arts.

You see friends, I’ve always been a lover of knowledge. Every personality test I’ve taken, every mentor I’ve had, and many of the compliments I have been given by generous humanly have usualy revolved around my intellect. I’ve spent thousands of hours of my life in thought and in the written word, so it kinda makes sense.

It’s a great comfort to me to read and I believe it is where a lot of my natural creativity lies. I’m very thankful for this gift and I intend to continue to use it to great effect. But I’ll be the first to admit, that creativity often comes from places other than self. Sure you can carry a creative idea through to it’s logical conclusion and exhaust it by repetition and personal exploration, but even more new ideas form through experience of the world.

Which is why I need to keep reading regularly, and read new things. As an artist, a curator of art and a practitioner of artist development, it’s my pleasure to share ideas with you dear readers. That means I need to find ideas in order to share them.

Buying a new album and film every week is a start, and participating in social media to build an empire is a good for discipline, but but I’ve always found that reading is the best way to spark ideas. Which is why I’ve decided to start The Reading List. It’s ambitious for sure, but it’s the only way I know how to flesh out a process, by dreaming big and digging in.

My goal for the rest of the year, and then for the rest of my life as I know it, is to read one book a month in a packet of categories. I’m going to start slow though.

To elaborate, I’ve grouped genres and topics, but will slowly expand outward until I am consuming at least 5 kinds of books a month. I already mentioned meta-reading, where I read a book, that I will also be writing about and how it relates to the act of reading, my relationship to the author I’m reading, and how my opinion of them and the work changes over time. I’m following this challenge concurrently with The Reading List to share some insights into the reading process and what I’ve learned from some wonderful authors.

And I’ve started with Ernest Hemingway. So let’s break down my crazy library sized idea for reading, and explore the possibilities and how it will benefit you, the readers of this blog.

I will read one book a month from the 5 groupings below, slowly expanding the number of books read so that I reach the point of 5 books a month. A book for each group:

  1. LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  2. LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  3. LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  4. LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  5. LEET -The Internet

If I can get to the point where I read a book from each topic a month, I’ll be flying pretty high. You see, dear readers, if I can embrace the 5 L’s of LANGUAGE (my own idea), then I can contribute proper to your own education and personal growth in the age of the Internet – Hence the LEET grouping.

I think it’s a pretty neat way to keep myself accountable. But what do you think? I’m out of theories for the week, so share the post and leave me some feedback. Facebook and Twitter are most appreciated.

Tim!

Things Said In Earnest (Meta-Reading)

I’m a big fan of lists, process improvement, discipline, personal development, branding, and having a purpose. These are expressions I’ve honed over years as both an artist and a marketing professional. And wisdom often denotes that if you want to continue to evolve you must change too as other successful people before you have changed.

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I do have to say something in earnest though, change is important and while that particular Xzibit meme pokes fun at recursive things, it also manages to be meta about the concept of change. As the old adage goes, the only thing constant is change.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a hint of a vision with you, as it seems I so often do.

But dear readers, you of course know that the much larger purpose of timotheories is digital curating at heart – we focus on cultivating the arts and providing you with positive feedback both on creative work and for creative professionals too…

And it is Wisdom Wednesday after all, so a vision seems appropriate. Where was I? Oh right I have a vision, a pet project, a task I am undertaking myself and which I seriously think all creative types would benefit from pursuing as well.

This project doesn’t have a name just yet, but for now, I’m going to refer to it as meta-reading. I’ve decided to tentatively call the vision as such because I know that I am going to be reading a minimum of one book a month. My rationale about said meta-reading is that I will also be writing about the act of reading, my relationship to the author I’m reading, and how my opinion of them and the work changes over time. I’m following this course because we don’t all consciously consider the act of reading. And we should. Most of us either do it or do not – which would make Yoda proud, but wouldn’t create well-rounded individuals.

So, I want to dedicate at least one post a month to a behemoth of creativity, one who I believe can provide you who some wisdom and help you to grow into the role you were meant to play, that of creative professional. I’ll admit first and foremost that this theory I have, that creativity is attainable by all, is not a new one, and I carry a heavy heart in sharing the knowledge I have gleaned from others and of course that which I personally pass on to you several times a week.

Which I why I’ve decided to start off the project of meta-reading by examines one of my favourite authors of whom I have never read anything by, but whom has been quoted and misquoted so many times in the history of writing since his contributions, and whom has been referenced in popular culture again and again.

That’s right, I’m reading a book by one Ernest Hemingway.

He has been called many things, from champ, to papa hemingway, to tiny, but Ernest Hemingway was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. And he lived a very rich life. Unfortunately his depression ended up killing him in the end, but that is not why I want to read one of his books. I want to understand why he influenced pop culture the way he did, and quite frankly I want to gain some wisdom myself.

Which is why my task for you over the next couple of weeks is to join me as I read Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises, and next month I’ll talk about the book, provide a little background on him and my thoughts, and do it again with another creative type. Sound good friends?

I thought so too.

And that’s all of the theories I’ve got for today. Please subscribe to the blog, leave some comments, and share with your artist loved ones. I’ll be back tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!