Aug 052008

I have been reading “The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size” by Julia Cameron. I like the book very much. If you have read this blog for any time at all you know how much “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” changed my life. And since I love writing the idea to “write myself right-size” holds a lot of appeal for me.

So far I only read the book once, and – I’m sad to tell you – reading the book doesn’t really change much. I will have to change my behavior. Again. But that’s not what I want to write about today. I want to write about one of the first tools that she gives you, right after the Morning Pages and Daily walks, both things I have been doing almost daily for the past nine years. That tool is that you keep a food journal. It is for recording what you eat, and when, and how you feel, and sometimes for writing instead of eating.

I have found myself strangely reluctant to start this food journal despite the fact that I already bought one, and have been carrying it around in my purse for the past week, and despite the fact that I think it’s a great idea, and will help me a lot, and despite the fact that I unearthed food journals that I kept in 2001 and 2003 and found them very interesting to read. Or I might say insightful and a little disturbing. So, despite all this I was reluctant and kept telling myself I’ll start the journal tomorrow, or maybe next week, or maybe in September.

Then I thought about that for a bit because that’s what I do, I sit there and think, and I found that my reluctance partly stemmed from the multitude of journals that I’m keeping. I can scarcely look anywhere without stumbling over a journal of mine, and journaling already consumes quite a bit of my time. This is what I have so far:

  1. Morning Pages journal (That’s three pages written by hand every day)
  2. Practice journal (A notebook where I write down when I play music, what I played, and sometimes how I felt, or ideas for songs)
  3. Quicken (In theory I record every cent earned and spent. In real life I have a high stack of bank statement and receipts sitting on my desk waiting to be recorded. I haven’t done that for about six weeks already.)
  4. A gratitude journal (Every evening I sit down and write down five things I am grateful for.)
  5. A general notebook (Filled with bits and pieces, phone numbers, ideas for blog posts, stories, notes on PTA meetings, everything.)
  6. My “notebook” on ravelry (All the details of everything I have knitted since last summer.)
  7. Flylady control journal (In theory this is where I keep track of housework and such, in real life I haven’t opened it for ages and, instead, transferred all the really important reminders to my PDA’s to-do list.)
  8. And, not the least of them, this here blog.

So, self-improvement is a nice goal but right now I’m not sure if maybe I’m trying a bit too hard. Also who wants to keep a special nice journal just to record things like “Ate a whole bag of potato chips, and two candy bars because I was angry. Afterwards I felt bloated and still angry. Waited for fifteen minutes and ate a whole bag of gummy bears.”

I know there are people who change their behavior in order to not have to write down things like that. I also know that there are people who cheat when keeping a food journal. There also are people who are too lazy to get out the notebook for a handful of almonds and so they don’t eat the almonds. I’m not one of them. In the past I have written down minute detail of everything I ate and why and how I felt afterwards but it never kept me from eating still more even when I wasn’t hungry at all.

On good days I think about all these notebooks and journals as my legacy and hope that some future scholar will gain insight in the everyday life of our times (though that insight might be a bit warped). On bad days I imagine my poor son reading hundreds and hundreds of pages that his parents wrote. Every single day recorded. Poor thing. I better tell him that he can give that all away without ever looking at it.

So. Do you keep journals? Food journals? Do you think it will help?

(And, on a completely unrelated note, please remember to send me posts you read or wrote for the Just Post roundtable until August 7th. If you haven’t heard about that yet, just click on one of the little birds down on the right sidebar.)

  5 Responses to “How much journaling is too much?”

  1. I really only keep a main list of things to do, and an inspiration book of images and drawings that I add to on occaision.

  2. As a journaling advocate, i read your latest post with great interest. I don’t think there is such a thing as too much journaling. You need to follow your heart. When you’ve had enough then stop. If you have an urge to write, then do so. The nice thing about journaling and keeping a notebook is that there are no rules for how much, what to write and grammar.

    Years ago i found my grandmother’s journal and it was such a treat. It’s nice for future generations to know what happened before. As a result, my book, “Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal,” evolved. I think you might be interested in reading it. It’s available in bookstores and also on Amazon and

    Happy Writing!
    Diana Raab

  3. My blog has become my journal. My feeling would be to simplify rather than add on in your case of journals. That would free up some time for you, or at least make your life less complicated.

  4. addressing only the food journal, the way I would use it would be to help me keep track of caloric intake because I sometimes “forget” things that I have eaten, and the help me make more varied nutritional choices – scan the journal and see that I can go ahead an choose a dairy food, or no, I need to eat a cucumber, thank you very much. With luck, more healthful eating will again become a habit, and at that point I would drop the food journal.

  5. i tried recording all that i ate for about 2 months. it worked, actually, seeing it there in b/w. strangely, i’ve stopped as of late. not sure why. it’s the sticking that is the issue i suppose.

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