“Writers are the custodians of memory, and that’s what you must become if you want to leave some kind of record of your life…”— William Zinsser, “How To Write A Memoir”
We all know keeping a calendar of future events is important.
What about keeping a calendar of past events?
The best writing project I took on last year was what I call my logbook: a simple Moleskine daily planner in which I kept track of the little details of my day. Who, what, where types of details. Who I met, what I did, where I went, etc.
It’s not a diary or a journal. It’s a book of lists. The lists are simple facts.
Why not just keep a diary?
For one thing, I’m lazy. It’s easier to just list the events of the day than to craft them into a prose narrative. Any time I’ve tried to keep a journal, I ran out of steam pretty quick.
But more importantly, keeping a simple list of who/what/where means I write down events that seem mundane at the time, but later on help paint a better portrait of the day, or even become more significant over time. By “sticking to the facts” I don’t pre-judge what was important or what wasn’t, I just write it down.
Best of all, limiting each day to one page and breaking it down into a list instead of prose makes it easier for me to scan through it later, and get a real feel for the passing of time as I flip the pages.
From the Wikipedia entry for “logbook”:
A logbook was originally a book for recording readings from the log, and is used to determine the distance a ship traveled within a certain amount of time. The readings of the log have been recorded in equal times to give the distance traveled with respect to a given start position.
The distance the ship traveled. I like that.
(Below are a couple iPhone snapshots of example pages — these days aren’t significant, they’re just days with events benign enough to share with y’all.)