Yes, I moved the interview to this week instead of last week, because I was busy updating my website and mailing list so that they are in line with the GDPR regulations that are coming into force…tomorrow!
I’m all set now, and ready to introduce you to John Robin, author of the recently published Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter. Knowing John, and knowing how ridiculously productive he is compared to any other author/entrepreneur I know, I thought it high time to ask him about his new journal, and whether it will help us become just a little bit more like him.
So, who is John Robin exactly, and what do we need to know about him?
After working for many years in academia and adult education, John left his job to pursue his dreams as a writer. Having cut his teeth as an editor at a small publishing company, John decided that, while he worked hard to prepare his debut novel, he would build a book production business to help connect self-publishing authors with editing, cover, design, and marketing services based on the traditional model. He presently is the creative director, senior editor, and production manager for his company and oversees a team of twelve.
As a writer, John’s commitment to the craft has put him on course for a debut epic fantasy novel, A Thousand Roads (January 9, 2019). He also enjoys writing nonfiction, as an instructor for the lifelong learning website Highbrow, and recently as author of Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter. He has numerous other projects in the pipeline, both in fiction and nonfiction, and is also a ghostwriter.
When he’s not writing, John enjoys reading, listening to educational podcasts, playing chess, recreational mathematics, drawing trees or maps with pen, creating vector graphic artwork (mostly fractals), working with textiles, playing classical piano (especially Beethoven and Chopin), long distance running and strength training, gardening, long walks, serially watching his way through TV series’ in the evenings, board game nights with friends, and of course…pandering to the whims of his cat, Wizard, who is the true muse behind his stories.
What is Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter about?
Probably the biggest complement to the work I do as epic fantasy writer and entrepreneur is how I manage my time. I use a system of journals and planners that might be thought of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People meets The Five Minute Journal.
This practice is very easy to do. It only takes about 10 minutes a day. You begin in the morning with a short visualization (1-2 minutes), then put in your longer part at the end of the day (5-8 minutes) touching base on gratitude, struggle, and intention for tomorrow.
Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter is designed to help any creative professional begin this same practice. It will get you started on a 100 day journey of transformation. The advanced guide at the back will help hone important skills like visualisation, proactivity, positivity, objectivity, and concretising so that you can set attainable goals and see results in your daily life. As a side benefit, you’ll also get help creating a morning and end-of-day wind down routine.
This journal is a lot more than just a tool for other writers or creatives. It can work for anyone. But especially if you are like me and your creative time is something you have to structure, and you want balance in your life, then this journal will help you form, develop, and hone consistent habits over time. You will be able to take charge of your life and take small steps toward being the kind of person you want to be.
How is Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter different from everything else out there? What does it add?
Many journals are passive. By that I mean they provide you pages or sections to fill in, but you’re not trained to hone and refine your choices and develop proactivity in your daily life. For example, in The Five Minute Journal, you’ll write down what you’re grateful for in life, but not necessarily what top 3 things happened today that you are grateful for. An active journal is one that directs you to do important inner work. If you’ve had a bad day, reflecting on what you’re grateful for can help you pep up a little, but taking that further and thinking about what, despite the day, went really well and where you were happy today, can help change your whole outlook on life because you’ll learn to see wonder in every day, no matter how difficult.
This journal is not just something I put together because I wanted to make a cool journal for people. It’s basically me putting in print format a journal system I’ve been refining for 11 years. It’s elegant and straightforward. It covers gratitude, struggles, and intentions, and you begin each day with visualisation. You mark yourself so you can see how you’re actually doing. Each day is one page. It builds layers of days together and helps you assess yourself objectively and apply that to the intentions you want to set for tomorrow.
It’s also a more hands-on self-help book. While I love reading self-help, I often leave them feeling like the ideas are great but where are the results? Some self-help books have workbooks, but those are left behind when the work is done. The very method around which Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter is built is one where I applied concepts from these great books, particularly The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, but most importantly, it’s a system where I’ve applied it every day and continue to improve.
Why did you publish Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter?
A number of people have asked me to explain my journaling method. I’ve mentioned it before and allude often to my different productivity systems. At the same time, I was getting tired of having to rewrite the headings all the time when I would do my daily journal. Initially, I was just going to make this book for myself but when I put it together, I thought of the people who wanted to try to learn my method.
The result was the advanced guide at the back of Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter. What I realised is the journaling method I do is very much like a workout, but for the mind and soul. Cultivating a positive outlook, taking charge of thought-habits, setting intentions, learning to be more objective, learning to translate what really happened in a day, and how I really feel about it to the page—all these skills are things that come innately from the method I use and as I put it all together, it was no wonder to me I’ve seen such changes in my life.
Immediately, I felt like these words of advice, and this practice, were something other people can benefit from, especially the many creatives and writers who struggle with motivation and habits.
(I will add for the sake of it, that this daily journal system and its results are a component of something larger; I practise a weekly, 7-weekly, and annual journaling method as well. These are going to be future publications I plan over the rest of 2018.)
Who will benefit from Your Daily Journal: 100 Day Starter?
The most specific group I’d like to reach out to would be creatives who struggle to structure their creative time, especially balancing it against a busy life where the clutter of it all leaves you feeling like you’re in a rut. Particularly us writers, who hold onto projects that might take years to come together, having perspective and deeper meaning and direction is important.
This journal though would extend to anyone who wants to get into journaling and wants to get the most out of it, especially those who read lots of self-help books and are always looking for ways to take charge of their life through the power of reflection and intention.
What is the best writing advice you were ever given?
Probably Stephen King’s advice in On Writing, both that to be a good writer, you should read a lot, and that you should write a lot.
I took it seriously, and, as a result, started a habit of writing every day, and reading in proportion. This has been a serious boost for me, and important navigation. As I’ve found, I can hit 3, or even more than 4 hours some days, of writing—and that I can keep up writing every day—but it’s been important to still see that larger picture: if I spend 3-4 hours writing, I should be reading that much as well. As tempting as it is to want to push the envelope and chase insane word counts, following King’s advice about the reading/writing balance has helped me feel more grounded and, in fact, I’ve noticed steady leaps in my skill that wouldn’t happen if I was just writing a lot. Writing every day, especially averaging ~20 hours/week, is a LOT. I feel like every week I spend that much time strategically reading, it equates to writing (minus the reading) for 60+ hours/week, as not only do I forge ahead in all the things I’m doing, I undergo quicker changes and absorb new creative directions and perspectives in the writing I’m doing.
Curious after the journal and want to connect to John?
(The Amazon.co.uk links in this post are affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you buy through these links.)