Journaling ≠ “Dear Diary…”

{3 different ways to keep a journal}

Originally published on Medium as a part of the 30 days of writing inspiration series. This was my most popular article of the week, so I thought I'd share it here.


I have kept a private journal since I was eight years old. Sometime I wrote because I wanted to and sometimes I wrote because someone else told me I should — whether my mom or some guru online. Over the years I have experimented with various methods. Here are three I recommend trying:

One line a day

Some people tell themselves, “I only have to write one line,” and then write more if they want to. They let “one line a day” be a minimum, a starting point.

I treat it as an exercise in brevity. I set aside a single page in my bullet journal, number it with the days of the month, and limit myself to writing one line to sum up or highlight one thing about my day.

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Looking back over these month-at-a-glance pages is interesting. The simple summaries trigger more detailed memories.

Sometimes I take note of mundane things that turn out to be more memorable than expected. In May 2017, for example, I noted feeling strangely tired and a little sick to my stomach days before learning I was pregnant!

Morning pages

Julia Cameron coined the term morning pages, but the concept is quite basic: fill three hand-written pages with whatever is on your mind, be it mundane, emotional, petty, or whatever.

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I have attempted to form a “morning pages” discipline at different points in my life. It hasn’t been bad, but it has never stuck either. When I write first thing in the morning I prefer to dive straight into writing something that I aim to publish, especially now that I have limited focus time before my daughter wakes up.

Having a place to brain-dump and let random thoughts and ideas spill onto the page is important to me. Even if I don’t pick up my journal for days or weeks it is a comfort to know it’s there when I need it. Admittedly, I don’t have much of a routine right now, but when life steadies a bit I plan to integrate an “evening pages” journaling habit into my wind-down routine.

Digital journaling

My inner minimalist doesn’t know what to do with the pile of journals I have ammassed over the years. When I moved out of my parents’ house I had to face my stuff and that inspired me to try journaling digitally.

I used the Day One app for a good year or so, but writing on a screen is not the same as scrawling on a page. I did like the reminder to write that would pop up on my screen at the same time each day, and the ability to attach images was nice. I also love that the entries are searchable.

Still, even while I was using the app consistently I picked up a physical notebook to jot random things in. I also began my bullet journal during this phase.

What can I say? I like using paper and pen!

Try various methods to find out what works for you.

Don’t get hung up on finding the perfect method. Start writing. Experiment with different notebooks and apps. Write a little, write a lot. Keep a journal in a particular place and write at the same time each day. Carry a tiny notebook with you and jot down thoughts no matter where you are. Stop making excuses.

🤔 How will you begin today?

I don’t want to help you {on creative burnout}

Originally published on Medium as a part of the 30 days of writing inspiration series. This was my most popular article of the week, so I thought I'd share it here.


I promised to show up every day with something to inspire you to write. I don’t want to today, but here I am. I hope you appreciate it.

Do you ever consider how hard it is for us to keep creating?

As you sit there consuming, do you think of the work behind the entertainment or education your are absorbing? A five-minute film might represent five-hudred hours of research, planning, and execution. A short article might be the distillation of years of education and experience. A song might be the result of a thousand tears.

Have you taken even half a moment to appreciate this?

Do you find ways to give back and say thanks?

When was the last time you simply said “thank you” to someone who made something you enjoyed? A simple positive comment can turn around a person’s day, especially since it’s far more likely for a consumer to speak up if he is unsatisfied. A few claps can mean a few pennies and those pennies might go into a dream fund that when filled will help refill a tired author’s burnt-out emotional gas tank. A thoughtful gift to a creative you know personally can help motivate her to create again today.

Because creating every day is hard.

Do you nod in agreement because you’re a tired creative too?

If so, don’t let yourself off the hook. Even if you should be on the receiving end of thanks and appreciation that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be giving it. In fact, you know better than the average person how meaningful it is to be acknowledged for something you have made. Let that motivate you.

🤔 Who will you express appreciation to right now?

I want to know. Seriously, give them a shoutout loud enough for me to hear. Perhaps I’ll find what they create entertaining or educational like you have.

so we're technically homeless... {life update}

I'm going to let myself ramble. Even in this chaotic crazy time I've held to my commitment to write and publish daily on Medium, but I don't feel like I have it in me to craft a polished post for this blog today. So I'll simply pour out my heart.

Early in July my husband got a summer cold. Or so we thought. Two weeks later he was still sick and so was my baby. A week after that I succombed to illness and when I fell ill I fell really ill. By the next week I was going crazy. Summer colds don't make you crazy. But mold does.

I was sitting outside at 5am after a sleepless night when it hit me. I had friends who had dealt with weird symptoms like we were having. They lived in a house with black mold in the walls. I ran inside, scooped up my baby and woke up my husband. "We have to get out of here!"

Later that day he went back and found black mold in the wall between the bathroom and bedroom.

We were renting, so fortunately we can walk away from the house. While our possessions aren't full of growing mold, they are contaminated with spores. Some of them... most... all? I don't know. I swing back and forth between wanting to be optimistic and wanting to play it safe. Part of me simply wants to start over, getting rid of everything that could possible have a spore on it.

For now baby Beyla and I are living with my parents while my husband is 1,000 miles away. He has to keep working his day job through October, so he couldn't come with us.

So yeah... technically homeless until further notice. The goal is to reunite with my husband the last week of September, but we don't know where we will be living then, nor do we know what will happen after he closes out this phase with his day job in October.

2018 was to be a year of excitement. I wasn't quite expecting it to be like this.

It hasn't been all bad. Far from it. Sure, losing our home and possibly a lot of our things is so incredibly difficult that my mind can't even wrap itself around what's going on. At the same time being able to see my parents and siblings is an unexpected blessing. Especially exciting was the fact that my sister Moriah is actually home — she's such a world traveler it can be hard to catch her when she's visiting her home base. When we arrived she was in Ukraine, but she returned within a few days and we have been enjoying the time with her.

God's provision is so unexplainable. He guides and provides in ways that are strange, but strangely reassuring as we settle in and don't push back or demand our own way. I'm seeing this in so many crazy ways during this phase. Maybe one day I'll find the words to explain...

If you've read this far, thanks for listening. This sort of experience is isolating and lonely. People all around are going through the mundane actions of life that I once took for granted and now cannot. These people simply cannot understand what we are going through.

And yet now we are stepping from the isolated phase into a phase of community rallying. Those whose lives have been devastated by mold are speaking up to say, "you aren't alone." They and others are stepping in to provide food, housing, baby things... giving us the support we need to recover.

Recovery will take time since the symptoms do not simply disappear now that the toxins are not actively entering our system with every breath. I don't know what the road will look like. I'll probably write about it. Let me know if you think I should... (I'm on social media as @jordanelisheva or you can email me at jordan @ jordanelisheva.com)