Keep a Journal!
Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Summit University! We are grateful for your continued presence with us in this great journey to become better writers together.
This Thursday, Americans will come together and give thanks to God for the abundance He blesses us with. For those of you who live beyond America’s borders, this is a week in the U.S. when families and friends gather and share in the harvest time of the year. In addition to food, warmth, and protection from the elements, we give thanks for friends, family, small comforts, blessings of big accomplishments, and even new insights in life. And, after seasons of illness and travel restrictions, Americans have much to be thankful for this year, including the ability to travel and spend time with loved ones in person.
Many are familiar with the history of the first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims of the newly-formed Plymouth Colony gathered with Native Americans to celebrate the successful fall harvest. Celebrating a fall harvest was an English tradition. But how do we know this story? Because William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, kept a journal. From this record we have facts about the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving which took place approximately 400 years ago. Imagine if there had been no journal. Would this great American tradition have died on the vine four centuries ago?
A journal. It’s an odd thing to be grateful for. And yet, it is journals like William Bradford’s that share the secrets of life. Journals contain stories of lessons learned, results of roads less traveled, and conclusions of decisions that some would probably not make again. They leave behind a record of footprints that would otherwise wash away over time. Bradford’s journal captured a vision of setting aside cultural differences and gathering in friendship and thanksgiving—an example that Americans commemorate to this day.
This month’s writing tip is to keep a journal. This shouldn’t be hard for us to do as writers. Given our verbal dexterity, we can probably capture in words the important moments in our lives rather quickly. And journaling can be a great way to keep our writing skills sharp.
But if the habit of journaling intimidates you, remember that it doesn’t need to be complicated or pretty. Just start somewhere. You don’t need a leather-bound blank book or something with expensive paper and a fancy cover—unless it inspires you to journal more. Pick up a half-empty notebook or open a new computer document and start writing. The key is to just do it and not be concerned about the “ugly first draft” and where it lives. (After all, aren’t all journals a perpetual “ugly first draft”?) Someday, we may need these records, however rough, to remind ourselves of the stories we can pass on to others of life’s battles hard fought and won. We’ll share techniques in a future email about what we can do with these stories once we’ve captured them. But for now, we encourage you to just write them down.
So, if you haven’t done so already, take some time in this season of giving thanks to pick up your journal (or start one) and record some of your memories of 2022. You could even add an entry on what you are grateful for this year and why. Allow yourself a little time to reflect on and record your harvest of this year.
Still not sure journaling is for you? Here’s a bonus tip: Did you know that William Bradford re-embodied, made his ascension, and is now known as Ascended Master Warren Carter? In his final life, Warren Carter did not keep a journal, but he left a record of walking the spiritual path through his family who have continued in his footsteps to this day. As American’s gather this Thursday, November 24 for Thanksgiving, we can thank Ascended Master Warren Carter for the journal he kept as William Bradford and ask him for inspiration and assistance with keeping our own journal. His record of the first Thanksgiving laid the foundation for an annual celebration of gratitude that has lived on for centuries. Imagine what your journal entries could do!