Sunday, November 06, 2011

Winter Projects: Journaling


  • Fridge and freezer maintenance - Clean one drawer, one shelf, or two door shelves in both your fridge and your freezer. Doing this every week means your fridge gets cleaned out every month, not once or twice a year like so many other US households.

  • Check your coat closet, which is going to get a lot of use in the next couple fall and winter months. Does it need to be tidied up? Any coats that have migrated elsewhere in the house and need to be rehung in their proper place in the coat closet? Any coats that are looking dingy or smelling musty? If so, take them to the dry cleaner. What items can you remove from the closet to de-clutter it? Need to vacuum the carpet inside the closet, dust the shelf or remove excessive empty hangers?

  • Make meal plan for the week; create grocery shopping list

  • Figured out what you're packing for your kids' lunches tomorrow? or for yourself?

TODAY'S PROJECT: Bookshelf Sorting

Faulkner Library Cabinet, at Crate and Barrel

Now that it's dark, rainy, and cold at night, I'm finding myself making more time to just sit quietly and read. I read a lot in the summer too, but then there are more distractions from visitors, neighbors, pets playing noisily outdoors, airplanes flying overhead, etc. In fall and winter, it's quieter and I can enjoy reading for longer stretches of time.

My bookshelves are, as always, a terrible mess. Every few months I completely sort and organize them, but then they get messy and cluttered again. I've managed to only buy one new book in the last two months. Instead, we go to the library every few days, picking up new books and dropping off the ones we've just finished. I'm proud of myself!

Now I have to read the books I already have, and make painful decisions about which ones to donate, recycle, give to friends, and which to keep.


If you have overflowing bookshelves, like I do, take some time today to organize. While I'm sorting, I will dust the bookshelves too. My four living room bookshelves are too heavy for me to move by myself. Instead, I'll move my bedroom and downstairs bookshelves so that I can vacuum behind them tonight too.

Do all the bookcases in your house if you have time, or just one bookcase, or at least two shelves. Every little bit of organizing you can sneak in helps.


See if you can bear to part with any of your books, especially paperbacks you've already read but you suspect you'll never re-read them. You don't need to keep every book forever. Be firm with yourself and honest about your book reading habits.

Pick up each book and ask yourself, "Have I read this yet? How long have I owned this unread book? Am I really going to read this book in the next six months? Is this a beautiful coffee table book, or a reference book I need to keep around? Is this a sentimental book? Did someone special give this to me? Is the flyleaf inscribed?"

Donate books to the library; donate to charities that send books to the troops; mail books (if they are in good or very good condition, only) to penpals, or sell them on eBay's You can also try selling them to a used bookstore near you, but don't expect to get more than a few dollars for a bag full.

Maybe some of your friends might be interested in a book or two of yours. Offer some books around, but don't make your book clutter someone else's problem too.


Organize the books that are left, dust the bookshelves and replace in an organized manner that makes sense to you.

Make some time tonight, even if you can only find 10 minutes, to enjoy a book you've been looking forward to reading.


Erte "The Balcony" Writing Journal, on eBay

I like to do fun projects throughout the year. That way my life does not solely focus around work and housekeeping. Also, my projects make sure my life has more fun things in it besides my beloved friends and family. I like to do some things just for myself, too.

In summer it's difficult to drag myself in from the outdoors, so I do most of my creative projects during cold, dark, rainy fall and winter nights.

Enjoy writing? One possible project you might begin this winter is journaling.

Art Nouveau French Writing Journal, on eBay


Journaling can take many forms - diaries, letters, writing exercises, fan fiction, recording your dreams, and travelogues.

It can serve many other useful purposes, as well - spiritual discovery, memoir development, writing improvement, grief recovery, healing, catharsis, life planning, record of cooking experiments, family history, creative stimulation, or confession.

Your journal can be in an old notebook, a beautiful hardbound leather blank book, a blank journal you've creatively decorated, or it can even be a blog on Livejournal or Blogger. You can also just write using your word processor on your laptop; or the old fashioned way: an inexpensive pen and a paper college-ruled notebook.


I am very bad at remembering to journal every day. I tried techniques like keeping a hardbound journal next to the bed or in my purse. Neither way seemed to remind me, so now I've given myself permission to write only when I feel like it. Luckily, I feel like it every few days. I've found if I create a fun project to write about, I'm extremely more likely to actually write in one of my journals than if I just sit around waiting for inspiration.


If you prefer to try something more creative than recording your day-to-day life, try these:

  • Write a fake diary pretending to be a celebrity, then write about your fictional experiences on the set of a nonexistent movie.

  • Write an "Edward and Bella" Twilight fan fiction story, starring your teenage niece, and send it to her. She'll be embarrassed, maybe; but she also might get a kick out of it. Or write in the universe of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, whatever your teenager is into.

  • Develop a travelogue to somewhere you've never been (Use the Web for research to make it more accurate). Write a journal from the viewpoint of a time traveler, sharing your wild experiences as you visit different eras. You could write a journal as though you're an employee at a fancy hotel in Paris (even though you really aren't) making up stories about all the weird rich people that stay there overnight.

  • Write a pretend letter from one fictional character to another. Or from one historical figure to another. It's fun to mix and match people who couldn't actually have known each other: Have Neil Armstrong write to H.G. Wells, for example. Or have Jane Austen send a witty letter to fellow author Danielle Steele, just for fun.

  • Write a diary from the perspective of Snow White's stepmother, or Cinderella's stepsister, if you like fairy tales.

The idea isn't to lie to or defraud your readers (if you choose to share your journal). Rather, it's just to have a little fun and be creative.

Cavallini Par Avion Journal, at Paper-Source


If you enjoy writing, make time for yourself to write in your journal as often as you feel like it. Treat that time as sacred, and make it known to family members how important it is to you to have that fifteen to twenty minutes to yourself uninterrupted. Turn off your phone, log out of Facebook, and turn off the TV.

You might have to actually remove yourself from the house once a week to a coffee shop to get your writing time in, if you can arrange your absence.


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1 comment :

Joy to the World said...

Two things I keep meaning to do are clean the fridge and get back into nightly journaling. Seriously! How did you know?