Until fifteen years ago, I never saw much use in writing diaries. Though I kept one when I vacationed in Trinidad during Christmas of 1982, journaling each day's events never appealed to me. Any attempts I did make to fill in a diary became so tedious that I quickly abandoned each one.
My attitude toward recording my daily activities changed in 1996. A year previously, the Government of Canada placed me on disability due to my vision problem. A work counselor suggested I try freelance writing after I showed him tear sheets of articles from electronic music fan magazines which I had written on an amateur basis. Since Canada Pension Plan insisted that I find some sort of gainful employment, and since my ophthalmologist warned me not to strain my vision, writing via my screen-reader-equipped computer seemed like the best career choice.
In order to prove to CPP that I was actively looking for work, I began recording every writing-related task that I completed each day. I found a small wooden clip board that I had scrounged from the garbage at work and wrote what I did on scrap paper. When I had time, I transcribed my notes onto a floppy disk.
I still do this today.
Not only does keeping a work log provide evidence of my diligence but it yields several side benefits. One of these is that seeing the blank page each morning encourages me to fill it with writing-related activities. Another is that I'm reminded of publications I've sent work to, what I've submitted, and book purchasers when I transcribe my jottings to the PC. Since I have address macros for my customers and I record them in my electronic entries, I have additional proof of where these buyers live and when they bought my books. If I am challenged by my case worker, I can show her the dates on which I searched for work as well as what I did on each.
Creating a work log has given me incentive to continue writing on days when I've felt like quitting. The more than four and a half megabytes of log entries alone reminds me of the work I've accomplished. It also is a ready reference that I can use to remind myself of when I worked on various articles or manuscripts.
I highly recommend work logs for anybody who needs to focus on accomplishing tasks. After a while, these daily entries will show definite patterns in work habits. They'll also give a writer's descendants a window into his or her daily routine. Likewise, they help dispel the myth that we merely dash off articles or books and then relax the rest of the time.