The Surprising Benefits of Journaling One Sentence Every Day

The Surprising Benefits of Journaling One Sentence Every Day
The Surprising Benefits of Journaling One Sentence Every Day

The Surprising Benefits of Journaling One Sentence Every Day

Table Of Content(toc)

1. Oprah's First Day on the Show


If you are one of the many people who have never heard of the Oprah Winfrey Show, you might be surprised to learn that it was a daily talk show. That’s right, Oprah was on every day from 1986 to 2011, and she was on live television in front of an audience of millions.

The show was a success by any measure: it scored high ratings (it is still the highest rated talk show in the history of TV), it produced a steady stream of memorable moments for both Oprah and her viewers, and it made millions through book publishing deals with Harper Collins (which continues to sell well today).

So why did she do it? It turns out that Oprah was always very interested in interviewing people who had made a difference in their lives. She found that she got more information from hearing from people who were running successful businesses than from talking to people who had been celebrities or Olympians.

But what about asking questions about her own life? A careful study by Robert Bly reveals that Oprah’s first day on the show came with a mystery – a small jotter notebook with nothing but one sentence per day written during her first few months on the show. The goal at the time was simply to keep track of interesting personal experiences and thoughts. But there is something else at play here: while most interviewees wrote down their thoughts after they were done, Oprah wrote down hers before!

When she got started writing short answers during her very first day, she noticed right away that some things were easier to write down than others – as if, like Mark Twain says all over again, “something seems easier when you know where to look”. In fact, some days she found herself even more “light-headed” writing than before because she could focus on ideas instead of trying to remember them all. This kind of easily-digestible content is perhaps even more important for today’s writer-entrepreneur than for someone with years in front of them; think about this as you try not to forget your own daily journal for any longer than you need to!  (You can find Robert Bly's data here .)


2. Oprah Became a "Powerhouse"


In the years after Oprah's show ended, she went on to become an amazing and successful talk show host and author; yet Oprah's decision to keep a daily journal has been overlooked. Her writing was never intended to be published. It was only when she started a book club, The Book Club with Oprah Winfrey, that her earlier journal entries were published in 2010 as part of the Oprah Book Club Classics: A Year Of Reading Like An Oprah.

The journal began in 1986, as a way for her to keep track of what she had accomplished that year. Although it wasn't intended for publication at that time, her friends encouraged her to publish some of it so "people wouldn't forget what I had done." She wrote in the journal, "I do not want my accomplishments to go to waste!"

Since beginning the journal in 1986 (when she was 26), she has made over 540 entries covering her life up until 2011. The text of these entries are short and business-like but provide a complete portrait of every day: how she woke up, what she did during the day, which companies were working with her on various projects, how much time she spent reading books and how much time she spent thinking about writing her next book.

In 2011 - after over 25 years - Oprah decided it was time for this diary entry from 1986 to be made public again and published as part of The Book Club Classics: A Year Of Reading Like An Oprah . Her first batch of entries were released on May 25th (the same day as President Obama's inauguration); since then there have been more than 1 million page views every day on her site alone!


3. Criticisms of the Show and the Host


Oprah has said that she writes a sentence every day in her journal. This is a challenge to anyone who felt that the show was merely entertainment.

But it’s not just a challenge. It’s also a powerful way to make some meaningful changes in your life, get clarity on what you want, and stay focused.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to use this technique in a very specific way (a method I learned from the late Robert Greene). It is my personal practice of choosing one sentence per day for the year, summarizing the thoughts and feelings I experienced in the course of each day. Since 1986, this has served as an effective tool for me to focus on what I want from life and what I don’t want for it, as well as for me to think about where I am now and where I was a year ago.


4. Final Thoughts


Oprah’s show was a hit, but it wasn’t all that great. In fact, it was pretty much the opposite of good. It was self-indulgent and overly self-referential. The writers spent too much time rambling on about themselves and not enough time writing about their guests and stories.

This is a common problem with most shows that are hosted by people who are not particularly good at talking about themselves and even less so when the speakers are famous celebrities (or in this case, successful businesswomen). The problem is especially true when you have guests who were at the center of a major event, or if you are talking about something that happened before they were born (like how they got their start or what they did before they became famous).

As such, we recommend using this as an opportunity to step back from your own life and think about what you want to achieve in it:

• You don’t need to be right all the time;

• You don’t need to be famous;

• You don’t need to be rich.

If your goal is to achieve success in any of these areas, you can use this as an opportunity to gain perspective on yourself (and not just your own desires)



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