The one-sentence journal idea from James Clear…

Reading time: Just over 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post on journalling written by author James Clear….

Do you keep a journal? Or have you ever thought of pursuing such a habit? My very much younger self (I think I was a 12-year-old) kept a diary. But I swore off the process after my parents discovered the document, read it and chastised me for my uncharitable thoughts about my younger siblings.

Starting in my 30s, however, I began keeping a journal of all the books I read. This record has proven to be invaluable. Now when someone asks me to recommend a book, I no longer have to depend on my increasingly creaky mind. Instead, I can go to my computer and have a complete list of books I’ve read dating back to 1990.

On this list, I record the date read, the name of the book and author, the opening sentence and a few of my thoughts about the book. Each entry takes me only five minutes (or less) to record, which is what makes the process sustainable.

Blogger and author James Clear (pictured above), has recently suggested a similarly brief idea. He advocates keeping a one-sentence journal. The idea is that you ask yourself  what happened today. Or what you’re grateful for. Or what important task you accomplished. Or how you slept last night. Or how you felt that day.

The benefits of journaling are many. It sharpens your memory. It improves your motivation. It provides proof of your progress.

But as Clear puts it, “When a habit feels like an annoyance, you’re unlikely to stick with it…Journaling doesn’t need to be a big production. Just write one sentence about what happened during the day.” I like the simplicity of his approach and the way it gets around the problem of taking on too big a commitment.

The same strategy works for any type of writing, by the way. If you are intimidated by the idea of writing, start with a very small goal, such as writing for only five minutes a day. Over time, you can build up to something more substantial.