Journaling is hard.

I have a few issues keeping up a journaling habit, attested to by the dozens of blank notebooks and diaries I collect during my more ambitious moments. I’ve tried a few times but it’s not a routine I keep up for long.

I’m a perfectionist, I guess. Which in my case is less about producing only polished and edited writing and more about being too paralyzed with self conscious indecision to get any actual writing done.

I also get a little too cerebral about how to go about journaling. Do I go the itinerary route and record my day’s schedule matter-of-factly? Go for a more stream of consciousness strategem? Ask and answer a question in each entry? I can almost guarantee this crisis has been manufactured by my lizard brain in a desperate effort to prolong the procrastination. 

Sam said the difference between a diary and a journal is that a diary is private–a journal is meant to have an eventual audience. Well, thought I, that is a perfectly reasonable yet horrifying distinction. It makes a lot of sense. Historically, keeping a journal was very often like keeping a simple record for posterity. Governor Bradford of the Plimoth colony wrote a detailed if extraordinarily mundane record of literally every day with that intention. It was published not long after the colony began to flourish as a kind of subtle endorsement of the Great Migration. Like, look how boring and English everything is in America! On the other hand, we have Samuel Pepys, whose private diary was full of ten years worth of London society gossip, slander, and fart jokes. Both have been surprisingly significant, historically, sociologically, anthropologically, whatever.

I am including in my project proposal the goal of at least one journal entry per day. This is both sensible and feasible, and I am already dreading it. I’m a chronic oversharer but also offputtingly shy and private, which is a super fun and not at all infuriating set of personality traits to cram haphazardly into a person. This will be interesting.