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The Struggle to Journal Adventure

Some of the best stuff I put in my journal is the stuff that gets written while on vacation or on an adventure of some kind.

The problem is that by definition, adventure is what a trip turns into when things aren’t going as planned. How to remember to write in the journal under those circumstances?

Heck, even when things are going exactly as planned, how do we remember to write? In the heat of something we enjoy, it’s hard enough to find a spot to sit and write, let alone take the time to do so.

This year I’ve resolved to do a better job. I figure this breaks down into three major parts:

Make sure the tools are there

It’s hard to write in a notebook that isn’t there with a pen that isn’t there, so both have to be there. The good news is that for you folks who share office supply addiction, this is the perfect chance to try new materials. Especially disposable or inexpensive pens, pencils, etc. Not to mention the many paper notebooks folks are coming out with. It doesn’t have to be your main notebook, although if that works, by all means!

Reminders of what you want to accomplish

I usually have no trouble getting the tools along. I’m a packrat when I hike, wanting to be prepared and all that. The big challenge for me is that writing and drawing take time, and are usually an interruption. There isn’t really a trigger for that. State Parks often put up signs warning you to stay on the boardwalk, or throw trash in the receptacle, but they don’t have signs saying “write this down”. I always convince myself that I’ll write about it later.

I need to remember what I want to accomplish. Now, I’ll probably never get quite as good as The Hike Guy (Go look at his stuff. I’ll wait… It was worth a look, wasn’t it?) but that’s the feeling I want. I can’t get there while sitting at my desk or in the car on the way home. I have to sketch a bit while I’m there.

Make it a priority

It has to be something I make time for. I have to tell the family that I want to sit down and write for a while. If no one else is drawing, then it can be pretty boring. This can lead to kibitzing, and I really don’t write or draw well in front of an audience. Particularly an 8-year old one that’s saying “What’s that word?” or “What is that supposed to be?”

I will bring spare notebooks for the kids, along with a few extra pens. I may not get them as engrossed as I will hopefully be, but it should work for a while.

It’s not a perfect plan

I’m still figuring this out, and the only family hike we’ve been on so far saw zero writing or drawing. I didn’t even bring a pen, let alone a notebook. I will have to do better if I want to get what I’m after.

How do you make this happen?

4 comments… add one
  • Julie Strietelmeier June 2, 2015, 12:56 pm

    I just returned from a great vacation in Hocking Hills, Oh. If you’ve never heard of it (I hadn’t), google it and make sure you click the google images link. I brought a journal like I do for every vacation, with plans to write about the trip. I didn’t open it once… I wish I would have taken it with us on the trails we hiked even if I all I did was write a line or two. Now we’re home and I feel disappointed in myself because I know I lost out on some recording some good memories. I guess I can still write about the trip now that we’re back, but it obviously won’t be the same…

    • Steve Duncan June 3, 2015, 5:15 am

      Hi Julie – Yes, do write what you can! But if it makes you feel any better, I think this is way more common than you think.

      A thought – filling a whole journal puts a lot of pressure on one vacation. Maybe just use the same journal for all vacations?

  • Melanie June 2, 2015, 1:05 pm

    I journal pretty deliberately on the trips I take. I love to write (the action of writing) and having a pen and paper and getting to put thoughts down makes me happy. Additionally, my journals have served as great references for the scrapbooking that I do sometimes many months after the trip. Others on the trip have even relied on my journals. They are SO worth having and doing. That said, it’s VERY hard to sit and write when others are enjoying their surroundings and/or doing other things. When there’s too much to write or we’re on the move, I tend to jot down bullet points and then hopefully go back and flesh out the thoughts later in the day. It’s been so worth it to me to have the journals that I sacrifice what other things I might be missing because I’m journaling. One thing I want to try is to ‘dictate’ journaling with my phone so I can take a break from writing and still get the thoughts. One problem is you need Wifi to dictate with a ‘translating’ app. Thanks for your thoughts on journaling. I discovered The Hike Guy a few years ago when I was googling Moleskine. I also gained exposure to the Pacific Crest Trail hike through his writings. Blogs broaden our world.

    • Steve Duncan June 3, 2015, 5:14 am

      Hi Melanie – It’s funny you mention dictation, as I often will bring an audio recorder (Olympus LS-11) along on family outings. I’ll hit record and put it in my pocket with the pics sticking out. It records a lot of ambience, and when I’m really down, listening to the kids walk through the zoo will usually pick me up a bit. I don’t make any effort to transcribe it.

      Managing the recordings is a pain, and they’re time consuming to enjoy. So I mostly have a fold full of files – about 15gb worth so far ;-). I usually “slate” some details while recording, like where we are, what we’re doing, etc.

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