Everyday Journal

Last summer while housebound after ankle surgery, I started journaling each morning. At first they were rambling entries until I focused on intention, priories and gratitude.

Intention was my word of the year in 2019. Each morning I choose an intention for the day: rest, lead by example, set the pace, etc. Even if I don’t use the intention as a mantra throughout the day, it does inform my actions.

Priorities. I write three priorities each morning. Most days my priorities are an extension of my intention (that rhymes) and also encompass my to-do list. A priority might be to tidy up and the to-do list will include cleaning tasks. No more than three priorities otherwise your risk diluting your intention.

Gratitude. I won’t spend a whole lot of time selling you on implementing a gratitude practice. Each morning I write five to ten things I’m grateful for. These are often memories from the day before and have been fun to look back on. Again this helps me focus my day to acknowledge small moments of joy.

Atomic Habits

I read a lot of fiction as every fiction writer should. But I make time for selected nonfiction. I’m currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. Books and podcasts like this help me focus on my goals.

There’s nothing earth shattering in the book, except concision. Clear takes the theories and methods of others and makes them concise with actionable steps. I highly recommend the book for anyone trying to make small changes.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” James Clear.

Rather setting a goal, you are encouraged to create specific systems to reach the goal. If your goal is to write a book, you must create specific, actionable daily habits. For example, everyday I will wake up at 5 am and write five pages at my office computer.

In all practicality, I struggle to take my medicine each day and brush my teeth before bed. Using the methods at the beginning of the book, so far I’ve taken all my pills and brushed my teeth multiple days in a row. What else could I accomplish this way?

Old School

I’ve been struggling to find a groove with my current writing project. I take lots of notes on my phone, in my work notebook and in my personal bullet journal. Then I try to translate it all into a Google document. This process isn’t going well.

I picked up an older journal where I’d attempted Morning Pages and magic happened. I write a header at the top of the page as to what chapter I’m writing. I scribble about 3-10 pages each day. Some times it is just broad strokes of actions or character descriptions. Other times I write detailed chapters.

I’m not scared of the word processor. This is my process for this novel.

When I’ve completed a beginning, middle and end, I’ll start the process of transcription. This will complete my second draft. I’ll flesh out those broad strokes, correct inconsistencies and maybe strengthen theme.

I used to question my process until it started working for me.

Spike Lee’s first drafts are written entirely on 5 by 7 index cards. Each note card contained snippets of the whole: thoughts on theme, dialogue, setting, character descriptions, etc. Then he sorts them into order and begins writing a longhand screenplay. It works for him and he’s one of my favorite filmmakers.

What’s your process?