One of the most frequent questions I get is:
How did you write your first book?
All too often my answer seems to puzzle people. Not always – there are those who ‘get it’ right away, but most nod with a confused look and say something like “That’s interesting…” waiting for something more, a super secret-secret, perhaps.
So, how did I write my first book, you might be wondering.
I journaled it.
Seriously. I love telling this story because most people see journaling as a sometimes thing that you do when you have the whim.
(No, I’m not sure what ‘the whim’ really is, but you get the idea.)
Journaling is a very important tool for anyone interested in telling their story, and living the best life they can live, now.
Journaling is a way for us to make sense of our messy lives.
Journaling is a way to create our destiny.
I know, it all sounds so lofty, but that’s okay because journaling only works for those who commit to it.
Sorry, it’s true. However, I did not believe this. I blew it off.
If you’ve read my memoir or my book on writing, “Writer’s Doubt,” then you know my therapist was the one who suggested I start a journal and from his suggestion I started journaling, and presto, that’s where my memoir came from.
Simple and sweet. Right?
It took my therapist two years to get me to actually commit to writing in my journal daily!
It took him a lot of convincing. The good news is during all that time, I learned a hell of a lot about journaling and why it’s so important.
My excuse to my therapist was that journaling was for random thoughts and other gibberish when I felt the urge (the whim, as it were) to write. I simply didn’t feel compelled to take it seriously, because that would’ve made it seem like work and taken the fun out of it.
Sometimes I think stupid thoughts, I know. But that’s me, and frankly, that’s how breakthroughs and great things happen. We don’t take things seriously until we do, and then hopefully we have a great story to share later.
The Bruce Lee Connection
I remember when I was asked if I thought Bruce Lee was born a great martial artist or if he had to learn and practice. I was a huge Bruce Lee fan so I knew the answer. Bruce trained under Ip Man. (Btw, there are 3 great movies about Ip Man now.) Bruce Lee studied and trained furiously his entire life to become the best martial artist he could be.
Then, I was asked if Bruce Lee had to learn how to keep a journal. That caught me a bit by surprise (he kept a journal???) and my answer was no, of course not! However, I was about to discover this wasn’t true.
Bruce studied philosophy most of his life and today is considered by many as a serious philosopher of note.
I am not teaching you anything. I just help you to explore yourself.
He also studied psychology later in college. Long story short, Bruce Lee studied how to keep a journal as much as he studied how to be a great martial artist. But then, that’s what we expect from the greats.
It’s kind of funny, a lot of people laugh about affirmations. To Bruce Lee they were no laughing matter. Before Bruce became the person of fame we all know and love today, and became worth 10 Million Dollars (a great sum for the time), he wrote this in his journal:
I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest-paid oriental superstar in the United States. In return I will give the most exciting performances and render the best quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve for fame and from then onward till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness.
My personal argument for journaling as something to do when I felt the whim was losing its power and I was learning that there’s so much more to journaling than I ever realized.
And really, I’m not alone, that’s why most people don’t commit to it. But those who do commit to it, they find it to be rewarding in ways they often can’t even fully express.
So yes, I journaled my first book, but it wasn’t randomly. I wrote my life’s story with purpose, to chronicle my childhood so that I could understand what happened and why, and to accept and let go.
Journaling is important. Yes, it can make you a better writer, but that’s really only a small part of it. It’s a way for us to understand ourselves better, why things happen, and how we can cope with them. We can also design our lives by writing about what we want, when we want it, and how we’re going to get it. However, we don’t always know these answers until our pen starts to move.
I hope you decide to write your story and share it with the world (if you want to share it).
Want to learn more about journaling? The Art of Positive Journaling is now open for enrollment for a limited time and I sincerely believe if you’re serious about journaling it’ll be worth it to you.