The lost of art of writing for yourself
I’ve just finished writing my winter Everest Base Camp trek for a series starting later in the week here. During the trek I hand wrote into a little notebook. I’ve gone through quite a few notebooks over the past decade. Keeping a journal has helped from planning to daily diaries that’s been both a chore and a resource in writing everything down.
Upon transferring my Everest trek journal over to here I realized how much I’ve changed in writing things down.
A long time ago when no one was reading here I simply transcribed everything from my hand written personal journals to online. Even now that itself has changed as a lot of these handwritten notes are now coming from my smart phone rather than a handwritten journal.
Have I simply been evolving my process in documenting my journey, or just taking an easy route out?
Trekking away from regular electricity and in an environment that smartphones don’t like brought back the old journal format again. And, I’m glad it did!
Why it’s important to document things
I think this goes without saying. I like to document things. And, if anything I tend to go overboard, but, I like it so why not? What’s more, I get to keep records of many things. Emotions, places, people, things, events, facts, figures and a combination of all these things.
More importantly a good journal links all of these things together at a certain time period in history. Something that stands the test of time if you’ve written it out well.
A journal is a manly term for a personal diary
I remember going through a phase of negativity once. Looking back at some journals it was clear to see this coming through. At the time writing things down was a way of self-expression. One that came through no matter the subject matter.
Many causal readers just saw a negative post. Regular readers saw the decline in positiveness and started asking why?
Because it’s a journal, and not a happy-go-lucky blog. Things come in ebbs and flows. Much like they do in life.
With a journey like this, documenting it all is vital. It not only helps me looking back for things I’ve done, experiences, and the results both physical and emotionally. But, it also helps others.
It’s interesting to see how recording all this has evolved too.
My evolution of keeping a travel journal
- Over a decade ago I would save magazines, books, and online bookmarks in preparation for my journey.
- When I started this journey I kept a hand-written diary of my feelings.
- I tried to write things online in the form of emails to myself.
- This soon transformed into a handwritten log of accurate data on places and times.
- I then began a photo chronicle of my journey, using photographs to document my journey.
- My first private blog came about and I rapidly wrote down a weeks events based on my handwritten notes.
- Soon I began to transcribe older journals and newer ones directly to a blog.
- My handwritten journal morphed back into a series of one liners of facts, emotions and places.
- Slowly my handwritten journal got overtaken by a smart phone diary recording live maps and instant emotions. My camera taking a visual documentation of the same. These are all transferred here or to offline typed journals.
Failing to recall things not written down
Today, I am recovering from a few days of strep throat/flu. I haven’t mentioned it here, because quite honestly it’s a non-event. Everyone gets a little sick every now and then be it a cold, sore throat, or even cuts and scrapes. I wonder though if I did record how many colds I’ve had over the past 7 years would it mean anything?
Would it be advantageous to anyone else if I documented it? Would it reveal anything more? Maybe so, maybe not.
I do make little notes of the small things. But nothing in great detail. It’s only years later looking back that I nearly always think:
“Why didn’t I write that down?”
The reason is simple, you can’t record absolutely everything in your life down. It’s also a chore if you don’t like it.
It also shows you how things, places, and people change over time.
Going deeper: things were better in my day
Many people will talk about how things were better “back in the day”. But how? Likewise in travel when people mention things are not the same as they once were. But again, how?
Today with our multiple sources of communication we should be recording what we, as people, witness in the world around us.
Some examples I’ve personally come across would include travels in Afghanistan.
Did you know that in the 1960’s/70’s Afghanistan was one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and on one of the hippie trails? Yes, peace & love reigned supreme in Afghanistan!
Today if you do a search for travel in Afghanistan you get nothing but “war tours”, or “safe places to visit in the war zone”.
How much was documented about the beauty of traveling in Afghanistan before the modern wars? And would it not be interesting to read about it now? I think it would. It might even bring a few people to sense and help return it to its former nirvana.
I traveled through Pakistan in 2007 during emergency rule. I documented it. Today someone could have a very different experience there. Likewise during the Maoist revolution in Nepal, or when the monarchy was removed from power. All elements in history that are interesting to read and compare to our own travels today. Maybe …
Today’s online world of writing for now
One of the saddest things I came across recently was a person saying “They wrote that last year! It’s out of date!” It’s human nature to always want the latest and freshest information. What’s more is that I too want to know the latest bus times, and border/visa information in the realm of travel.
But, what seems to take a back seat, even for me, are people chronicling experiences from a period in time and not just facts and their own emotions.
Yet when I want a good read, it’s not the dates and facts I want, it’s the chronicling. The journey, the emotion and the events that took place then.
Maybe this is why books/novels will still over online content in terms of good immersion reading.
Finally, to make your mark on your world
When recording things in your like think about it as being a modern-day chronicler. When you are old and people ask what you did in life or where you went, just point them to where you wrote things at the time:
- Great to show grand-kids you weren’t always stuck in a chair!
- Your own memories get revived as you look through the past
- An interesting way for others to compare the past with the present
- It’s your legacy of footprints on earth, nothings ever too small to impress or help someone out there
Upcoming travel journals on the Everest trek
As you will see in the first few posts in my upcoming Everest Base Camp posts I began writing in the “how to style”? How to get to the base camp etc. Then as I reread them I noticed how I slipped back into my live journal format.
I kept mentioning how being so sick over the past year was causing me to fail on the trek. Unless you subscribe here you won’t get the back-story on that. Maybe it won’t make sense without subscribing. But … I actually, really, prefer reading it this way than the factual how to guide approach I use at the start.
I enjoyed it so much I stopped the Day1-3 style posts. And started doing Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 part 1. I tried to record as much as possible.
Because when I look back I want to remember everything on that once in a lifetime trek.
It might not be to everyone’s taste. But then again, whose journey is this?
Documenting your life
Not everyone needs to keep a super accurate blog, or even diary. But if I’ve learned anything over the past seven years of recording this journey it is that I wish I’d kept more notes. And, I’m sure if I had, I’d probably then be wishing I’d kept even more details!
That’s me. Maybe you have a better memory and can recall everything on the spot. I can’t, so I document it here, with photographs and in my offline journals.
Hopefully you’ll see what I mean over the next few weeks of the Everest Base Camp Trek travel journals.
Meanwhile I sit here wondering … how to’s or journals? or both?
How best to chronicle all aspects of a journey or for that matter a person’s life?
How to prepare for a trek in Nepal
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