Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why Keep a (Visual) Diary


From Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova (http://www.brainpickings.org/)

- a review of the book

 Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks
& Build an Incredible Career

by editor Jocelyn Glei and her team

(Brain Pickings is the brain child of Maria Popova, an interestingness (sic) 
hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large, who has also written for Wired UK, 
The New York Times, Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, and The Atlantic, 
among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.)

Much of the below applies to my keeping of the Ridou Report visual diary as well,
I would think:

"As both a lover of notable diaries and the daily keeper of a very unnotable one, I was especially delighted to find an entire 
section dedicated to how a diary boosts your creativity – something Virginia Woolf famously championed, later echoed by 
Anaïs Nin's case for the diary as a vital sandbox for writing and Joan Didion's conviction that keeping a notebook gives 

Though the chapter, penned by Steven Kramer and Teresa Amabile of the Harvard Business School, co-authors of The 
Progress Principle, along with 13-year IDEO veteran Ela Ben-Ur, frames the primary benefit of a diary as a purely 
pragmatic record of your workday productivity and progress – while most dedicated diarists would counter that the core 
benefits are spiritual and psychoemotional – it does offer some valuable insight into the psychology of how journaling 
elevates our experience of everyday life:
This is one of the most important reasons to keep a diary: it can make you more aware of your own progress, thus becoming a wellspring of joy in your workday.

Citing their research into the journals of more than two hundred creative professionals, the authors point to a pattern that 
reveals the single most important motivator: palpable progress on meaningful work:

On the days when these professionals saw themselves moving forward on something they cared about – even if the progress was a seemingly incremental “small win” – they were more likely to be happy and deeply engaged in their work. And, being happier and more deeply engaged, they were more likely to come up with new ideas and solve problems creatively.

Even more importantly, however, they argue that a diary offers an invaluable feedback loop:

Although the act of reflecting and writing, in itself, can be beneficial, you’ll multiply the power of your diary if you review it regularly – if you listen to what your life has been telling you. Periodically, maybe once a month, set aside time to get comfortable and read back through your entries. And, on New Year’s Day, make an annual ritual of reading through the previous year.

This, they suggest, can yield profound insights into the inner workings of your own mind – especially if you look for 
specific clues and patterns, trying to identify the richest sources of meaning in your work and the types of projects that 
truly make your heart sing. Once you understand what motivates you most powerfully, you'll be able to prioritize this type 
of work in going forward. Just as important, however, is cultivating a gratitude practice and acknowledging your own 
accomplishments in the diary:

This is your life; savor it. Hold on to the threads across days that, when woven together, reveal the rich tapestry of what you are achieving and who you are becoming. The best part is that, seeing the story line appearing, you can actively create what it – and you – will become."

by Maria Popova 

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