Better Living Through Journaling: Developing Your Craft

Let me guess – You have seen all the Bucket Lists and Leap Lists being repinned around Pinterest, and you’re thinking you want to do that, too. Great! It’s not the worst idea. It gives you a list of things to do that interests you.

But as you look over that list, you may notice that you’ve include one or five (or twenty, if you’re me. I’m never dying, at this rate.) “Learn [some skill]” or “Become better at [some skill]”. I’ve long said that if you aren’t learning every day, then you might as well not be living, so I think it’s great you’ve found things you want to learn or improve. It’s probably not going to come as any surprise at this point that a journal is your best friend here, too. (Like my marathon-running friends, journals are hardcore, fashionable overachievers.)

Start by writing down what you want to learn or improve. Then jot down some ideas for how you’re going to learn. If it’s a new skill, you may need to do a little research to figure out how to get started. Write that down in your journal. If it’s not a new skill, you may still have to do a little research to figure out which direction to go next. Write that down in your journal. Plan out what step you’re going to take next in your journey. And then record the steps of your journey. Write about what you’re trying, how it’s going, and what you’re learning. Write down questions that come up so you can learn the answers. Write down advice. (When you get stuck, having all of this information can help shake you loose and get you back on track.)

This is another journal type that can benefit from different media. A writer, or someone studying a writing-intensive skill, will gravitate toward writing down their progress. A visual artist might create a sketchbook or photojournal to record their journey. The possibilities are endless…as long as they give you some way to meaningfully review your work. It’s a practice, a record, and a study method all rolled into one.

And I will tell you right now – I wouldn’t have accomplished as much as I have without my journal to keep track of where I am in my learning plans. It keeps up with what I’ve done, what I want to know, what side trips I want to take, and the actual work I’ve produced (when I haven’t shared that online). Give it a try and see how far you go.


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