What It’s Like to Journal Every Day for a Year

by Anya Razmi

On December 31, 2016, I made a promise to myself: I would write every day, all the way until December 31, 2017. It was not necessarily a resolution I expected to keep. I’d journaled sporadically for the past year, but never so consistently. And certainly never so frequently.

However, somehow, I managed to keep my vow. Each night, I wrote a quote – song lyrics, movie scenes, or book endings – and beneath, something about my day. Some days, it was poetry. Others, commentary. Others, recording my memories. To be entirely honest, I never really believed in the therapeutic nature of journal. Indeed, I knew writing was an effective release of emotion; however, journaling – simply writing about me – I’d never put much effort into. Within a month, I proved myself entirely wrong. Writing before bed gave me a chance to process before I slept. If I was stressed, it was a chance to let that go, or, more often, have the next journal entry to look forward to, knowing I’d completed whatever obstacle I was dreading.

Mostly, it’s fascinating to look back and see how much I’ve grown. From struggling to process the election and writing about Trump’s travel bans to stressing out about Chemistry quizzes and recording my results in speech tournaments, my year dipped and swayed between current events, academic triumphs, and personal obstacles to overcome. It’s also easy to see how much my writing itself has improved. My poetry arced from impersonal and awkward to softer, more grounded writing. I explored drawing, too: doodles of my favorite movie or book characters and self-portraits; comics and sketches of my room.

These days, it’s mostly for entertainment that I look back at my journal. Ironically, it calms me to read about whatever freaked my out a month ago, or three, or eight. It reminds me to step back, once in a while. It reminds me what I’ve accomplished, and what is yet to come. In one year, so much had changed: I cut off two feet of hair, earned a black belt in an entirely new style of karate, finished my first year of high school, travelled across the country, started working in a lab, entered art competitions, competed in a speech event, read classic literature, and, of course, joined our school newspaper.

And yet, ultimately, nothing about my journal is fascinating. Indeed, most of it is dreary and day-to-day, and in the long run my triumphs that year were of little consequence. But in the end, that is life, after all: the moments between our rises and falls. It is easy to forget, caught up in it all, how quickly time passes. Easier, still, to wish it to pass faster: past the next test, next tournament, next essay.

But if you take a moment to stop, and think, and press yourself between ink and lined pages: well, I wish you luck. You might hate it. You might just find a place to save your favorite lyrics. You might give up after a week or so.

But if you stick to it – and I urge you to – you might just find yourself there, between one word and the next.