embodiment blues

I’ve been a member of this livejournal community, embodiment, since its inception a few years ago. Its goal is to encourage its members to create paper journals. You know, the whole, we’re all too obsessed with our computers, and we should remember that writing and having physical memories is good as well.

That’s not all that new to me, since I’ve kept a paper journal since I was seven, and I never stopped. But embodiment goes further, because its challenge is to journal every single day. Even if it’s just one sentence, a quotation, a song lyric, a photo, a sketch, a collage, a poem, whatever. I have never, ever managed to complete a year. I think once I made it to July, and last year I was pretty determined, but with my constant elbow struggles and the elbow surgery, I literally couldn’t always move a pencil or pen.

I’m trying it again this year. I don’t even wholeheartedly believe in embodiment’s mission, but I think it’s an interesting challenge that almost always deserves a try. I think it’s especially good if you’re just starting journaling, or if you’ve only done a very basic journal and you want to learn about art journaling or you’re trying to be a poet or a screenwriter or a novelist or whatever. So I’ve only had eleven “entries,” I guess, though there have been some days when I’ve written more than once. The amount of pages in this new comp book that I’ve filled since the new year are nothing to sneeze at. But today’s entry is pitiful, pathetic, and embarrassing. It’s the kind that I’ll read later and cringe at, wondering why I ever tried to be a writer at all. I hate that. So I posted to embodiment with this:

I know we’re not even two weeks in to this year’s challenge, but I already feel myself burning out. I’ve kept a journal since I was seven, so it’s not exactly that I don’t know how to do it, and at this point it’s so a part of my life that it’s not like I’m over it. It’s something about forcing myself to do it every day. You should journal because you feel compelled to say something or confess or figure something out or create or whatever. But some days you just aren’t in the mood to do any of those things, and you look at the clock, you’re tired, the day’s almost over, and you haven’t entered anything in your little book on for this date. So what do you do?

I just hate it when I fall into just writing a simple record, because I feel like I’m being cheap and not living up to the writing talents I know I have. There’s always a place for “I hung out with this person, played this game, saw this movie, and ate this food,” but if you start to do it day after day and have nothing fuller or more complex, it gets tiresome and you feel dull and stupid.

So what do you do when all of your usual outlets for prompts and inspiration fail, or when you just don’t feel like them that day? When reading a book doesn’t work, when you don’t want a writing prompt because by now, you’re just immune to them, when you’re not in an artistic mood or you don’t have the right pieces for a collage? How do you make yourself enjoy your journal, and how do you make your entry meaningful for the day? Or do you?

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One thought on “embodiment blues

  1. those days I just don’t write. todd always used to go on his trips about how you have to work at it, you have to make it habit and force it and blah blah blah.

    but as a musician too and especially as someone who doesn’t depend on her writing wholly for income yet, there are better things you can do with your talents to bring about the sort of moment that’ll give you, not inspiration, but the need to write. and that need is very important.

    but that doesn’t help you at all since you’ve set this year-long goal. someone told me about this daily exercise of writing down 6 observations from that day. for most people it starts on either side of the spectrum: super plain or excessively poeticized. but after doing it a lot from habit, the observations gain a more natural meaning and phrasing that becomes very useful later on.

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