Saturday, December 30, 2006

One Challenge, Endless Rewards

You might expect that someone who has kept a diary steadily for the past 11 years and teaches other people how to form and maintain this rewarding practice would be raising children who are also avid diary-keepers.

Wrong. While their mother scribbles away every night and tries to spread her message to audiences, these poor children have been shamefully overlooked. Neglected, even.

I decided to put an end to that and (try to) teach my children the art of keeping a daily diary. This is the best time for them to begin a lifelong habit that will enrich them and influence their families for the generations ahead. They’re all old enough now to write and they’re still young enough to pay attention to what their mom tells them.

A few weeks ago, knowing how difficult it is to find an inexpensive, predated daily diary, I went to the Journals and Organizers section of our local super bookstore and looked at the variety of journals on the shelves. Spiral bound, perfect bound, leather bound, plain, colorful, illustrated and embellished—so many to choose from. But I had four basic criteria: durability, size, page count, and price, which made it easy to eliminate many of the offerings.
  • Durability—Kids are hard on everything, especially a book that they’ll (with fingers crossed) use every day for a year. A sturdy book with firm binding, substantial pages (not flimsy or too thick), and little possibility of loose pages was important.
  • Size—One of the most essential success factors in keeping a daily diary is to write on only one page, so the size of the page is critical. No one—especially a kid—should be overwhelmed by a blank page that begs to be filled. (You know where that diary will end up.) So, I needed a book that was large enough to hold the day’s major events but small enough to invite, not intimidate, my children. Also, knowing that they will be traveling during the year, it was important to choose a book that they could take with them.
  • Page count—So many journals on the shelves were beautifully designed and decorated, but they lacked the required number of pages. When I found one I liked, I stood there in the aisle and turned each page, counting in my head. When I reached 50, I knew I had 100 days. Then I eyeballed the rest of the pages to determine if there were 365 days in the entire journal.
  • Price—Please, we’re not those Hiltons.

Also, because I wanted to personalize the books for each child, a plain cover was more appealing to me than an embellished one.

After carefully looking at the contenders, I decided on a 4”-by-6” perfect-bound, plain-covered journal with sturdy, lined pages, for $5.99. It has a ribbon bookmark and a covered-elastic loop that keeps the book closed.

Then I headed to the crafts store and bought paint markers in bright colors, and wrote 2007 and the child’s name on each cover. Very simple, very easy. I could have done more, but I had cookies to bake.

Later, with pen in hand and liquid erasing fluid nearby, I wrote the date in the upper corner of each page—and turned three small books into three keepsake diaries.

Finally, I slipped a good ballpoint pen through the loop of each one and wrapped them all up with a hope and a prayer.

On New Year’s Day, we’ll all sit at the kitchen table and have a little training session. We’ll take it one week at a time, and I’ll give rewards for the first month. After that, writing every day will have become their new habit.

What about you? Is this your year to start keeping a daily diary? Why don’t you use part of one of those holiday gift cards for a simple, inviting book that you can turn into a diary by filling it with the daily events of your amazing life? A few sentences a day will record and preserve your life—for you, for those you love, and for those who will come to know and love you through your diary.

Are you willing to take the challenge? If you are, leave a comment and tell me you’re going to keep a diary each day for a month starting January 1. If you keep it up for a month, I'll send you a reward.

For help getting started, see Keeping a Daily Diary in September.

Join me and my family, and let’s do it together!

© 2006 by Marilyn C. Hilton

~Next up: A review of must-read Real Women Scrap by Tasra Dawson~


kmorphy said...

I'm gonna give it a shot. I can't write much because of tendonitis, but your idea of just a couple sentences a day should be doable.

Pattie said...

I will give it a try!

Jackie Castle said...

I've kept a journal on and off for years, but have let it fall by the wayside. You're encouragement is helpful. I think it's great that you use your site to show others how to journal. Some people simply don't know how so they won't even try.

Jannie Ernst said...

Okay, Marilyn, you got me! I have been threatening to do that since forever, so - here we go! My hubby bought me a lovely thick journal with gilded pages a few years (shame on me!) ago, and it's still unused.

I'm writing.... January 1, 2007.

You're on!

Tasra Dawson said...

I'm gonna give it a go again. I've got the journal already, just need to do it EVERY day!

Randi said...

Okay Marilyn... I found a journal and made an entry last night. And already it's time to write again! (I like the idea of small pages, one page a day - that feels like something I can manage.)