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Orwell On Keeping A Journal

oberon journal cover

My Oberon journal cover

I’ve written before about reasons to keep a journal, but I recently read something by George Orwell that sums it all up better than I ever could, so after today that will probably it for me weighing in on journaling.

This quote is from his collected letters in the collection As I Please:

One way of feeling infallible is not to keep a diary.

There it is. That sums up everything I think about my personal journals of daily events,  my workout log books, and my food diary.

If you write things down, you have to be accountable for your lack of progress. There is no pretending that something didn’t happen, unless of course you write things down and then never go back to look things up.

It takes a lot of the guesswork out of things. No trying to remember how much weight I had on the bar, or what I was eating before I ballooned up to 400 lbs.

And it shows me how fallible I am. But that shows me how to improve.

Any avid journaleers (not a word) here?


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  • Amy June 28, 2011, 12:05 pm

    I do not journal. I have tried many times in my life but I just don’t enjoy doing it. Although my FB status updates are a journal of sorts. I should put them in a file and then add in little one liners as time goes on and save.

  • DC5 June 28, 2011, 12:10 pm

    I’ve been journaling for nearly ten years. In all that time I’ve filled no more than two journals with my scribbles. True, the journals are 300-500 pages each. But ten years?

    Weeks go by when I write nothing at all. Oh to be more like Pepys now that summer is here.

  • Boris Bachmann June 28, 2011, 3:43 pm

    When I was 17, I started keeping training journals. Unfortunately, I quit soon after. I started again more than a decade later and have kept it up. I don’t include much more than sets, weights, time (if relevant), and aches and pains but, over time, just that is a huge amount of information.

  • Misty June 29, 2011, 7:48 am

    Do you have different journals for different topics? Like one for the eating and exercise, and one for quotes? I haven’t usually been good about keeping any journals, but this year I’ve been successful in keeping a poetry journal, and I’m wondering if it would be silly to add in other things to it. Almost as though it would ‘pollute’ the poetry journal to have information about my workout.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 29, 2011, 10:04 am

      Misty, yes, it’s all separate. The idea of the journals polluting each other made me smile.

      • Boris Bachmann June 29, 2011, 6:24 pm

        I have one for training, one for work, and one for random stuff.

  • Will June 29, 2011, 9:02 am

    Great timing, again.
    I spoke with ATG last month in Minneapolis, regarding the function of human consciousness. If it exists, it exists to repair what is ‘wrong’, or to ‘project improvements’. That is what ATG said.
    I noticed that my own journal entries comprised mainly of notes on orthopedic pain, crazy/bad dreams, women problems, and what i could alter in my training/nutrition to get better. There were several weeks where there was only one or two entries. I looked at it and said “hmmpphh, i suppose nothing was wrong that day”. I also noticed i was making entries exclusively in the AM hours.

    I changed all that, in the last week, that is. More entries at various times of day, more notes on my new dog’s behavior, as well as the aforementioned ‘what’s wrong’ and ‘what could be better’.

    Also, in an unrelated note, a girl mentioned to me that if i wanted to ever finish writing something, i should read books about writing, such as “On Writing”. Any other recommendations?

    • Boris Bachmann June 29, 2011, 6:23 pm

      “On Writing” is very good. “Zen and The Art Of Writing” by Bradbury is very good.

  • Purple Hatting June 29, 2011, 8:22 pm

    Yes! This is a daily ritual, without which I feel rather uncomfortable. If I don’t write, I feel like I’ve wasted an entire day of my life. True story.

  • Scott June 30, 2011, 6:20 am

    I’ve kept a journal on and off for many years. I find it both therapeutic and fascinating to look back. A tool that I’ve been using lately is a website called “Oh Life”: http://ohlife.com/
    It makes the process much easier for me by sending an email reminder and all I have to do is reply and the site compiles it for you.