Ah ha- did that get your attention? I hoped it would, although I do hope you’re not meant to be doing something else. Were you distracted too easily? Me too!
The thing is, I was checking my email, my facebook pages (oh dear – plural) my twitter, following links to other posts that looked interesting – and on the whole were. But it was getting to be a habit that I didn’t like and even away from my desk, I was still finding that my concentration was dwindling. Turning off the computer wasn’t helping and I was horrified by the realisation that I was drifting from one thing to another and not focussing as I used to.
And how did I fix it? I started journaling again. Well, it’s not exactly journalling, it’s writing three A4 pages – of drivel mostly. I’ve done it for years on and off. In the beginning, it was to build up my writing muscle – the practice, every evening, made me sit down to write and learn to express my feelings. I ranted, I moaned and groaned, I planned, I dreamed, I celebrated. It was liberating. It gave me clarity of thought and later helped me work out short story plots, plan my day, and even resolve arguments on paper that I couldn’t resolve in life.
Then I stopped doing it.
I won’t go into the reasons why but it was so bad for my mental health when I stopped. Instead of releasing all my sadness and anger I kept it all in and it made me ill.
So I started again.
No one reads these journals but me. I have burned many of them, loathe to think that my loved ones would find them and think my life was bleak and miserable when it wasn’t, not really. The pages weren’t neat and tidy, the sentences were not grammatically correct, and words were misspelled as I kept writing fast to allow the words to tumble out.
Sometimes I couldn’t write half a page. Sometimes I tried to write but kept looking out of the window, checking my email or writing a note to myself on another piece of paper – which totally misses the point but seemed quite sensible at the time. I realised that this constant switching from one thing to another had become ingrained and it scared me. Think about how you use the internet for a moment. Are you anything like me?
I read an email, it contains a link. I might click the link to another page, then back to the inbox. And on my facebook page, I scroll down, find an article or a link, follow it, check my notifications – you get the picture. It’s a constant to-ing and fro-ing and it sets us up a rhythm for the day if you are not careful.
So, I went back to the pages. Now I switch off the screen and I write continuously for three pages. It takes me half an hour most days and I used to think that was half an hour I could have been working on a story, or a chapter of my book. But it has the opposite effect. It stops me feeling antsy and fidgety. It gets me in the correct mindset to sit and work on my writing – and I end up being far more productive because of it.
Why don’t you give it a go? You might not want to write a story or anything at all, but journalling can really help keep you in good mental health.