on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

writing to listen to our selves

I gifted dayone to my partner when we started dating, and ironically she is more diligent than me when it comes to documenting her life. She has filled up enough of it to have a memory pop up for the 365 days of the year for “on this day”, and now she uses it to resolve our arguments if it is related to historical accuracy.

I used to write sporadic entries whenever I felt like it, and I also had long 100 day streaks on 750words which is created by my friend Buster. But writing 750 words a day is genuinely both a time and psychological commitment, so I stopped a couple of years ago.

I became envious of the richness my partner had in her journals, and I also wanted a memory to pop up everyday for myself. At the same time, Covid started and I realised how precious is the mundane:

It is not that easy to commit to journalling everyday. It can feel like a chore, especially in times of depression and chaos. So to make it easier for myself I decided to just write bullet points and include some daily photos. It can be as mundane as writing:

  • cycled 14km today
  • read more of <insert book title here>
  • cooked <photo>

It worked, and as of today I am on a 180 day streak, which is possibly my longest streak ever.

A few weeks ago Buster was calling out for beta testers for the new 750words he is building, so I gladly volunteered. I wanted to be a good tester (not just frivolously clicking around), so I started writing 750words longform again.

I was surprised by the experience. The first entry felt tiresome, it took me another 7 days to write the second entry, followed by 3 days for the third. Today I am on a 7-day streak, on top of writing bullet points on dayone.

I realised it is through the act of longform journalling that I am setting exclusive time to listen to myself:

How often throughout the day do we give shape, form and consideration to our thoughts? We are often doing, if not scrolling, consuming or interacting. There is no space for our feelings to develop a concrete form, and without a concrete form it will most likely exist as a background anxiety. Many of us are also probably not very good at developing arguments and logic in our minds, because that requires holding a long thought process without interruptions. The act of writing down our thoughts let them become actual seeds that can be transformed into other forms. Else, thoughts would most likely remain fleeting.

Bullet journalling has been valuable to me, and I will continue to do it for documentation purposes. But I now realise (again) that it is through longform journalling that has profound compounding effects on me.

I think I have become a lot less anxious in the past few days, and a lot more grounded. Anchoring my thoughts down is a way of giving my self more presence in my own life. I am constantly surprised at what comes out of my private writing, and I am continually surprised at how much of my old selves have to teach me (I totally forgot I wrote the tweet above).

I also don’t notice how much I’ve transformed as a person until I read some old entries. It is both sad and funny how much certain things used to torture my consciousness and how detached I feel from them now. This makes me hopeful for my future self (if I stay alive long enough), that given enough time and conscious effort, whatever anxiety that is plaguing me currently will eventually become an artefact of my personal history.

As a sidenote, I’ve been thinking how to surface learnings and themes in a more efficient manner apart from reviewing entries “on this day” style. This is not just for my journal entries but also notes and highlights from books, etc. There is so much depth in the past, if only I can find meaningful ways to regularly analyse the synthesis of their connections.

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making space for my self through journalling
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