This morning, we woke up to the news that Boyzone’s Stephen Gately had died suddenly, at the age of 33.
When young people die, it is always shocking but particularly so when it is unexpected. It is not so much the reminder that we are mortal or that life is short – we all know that don’t we? – but the realization that this was not in their immediate plan. Like Michael Jackson earlier in the year, Stephen was on the verge of a world tour. Dying wasn’t on his agenda just like it isn’t on mine. It’s the thought that I could pop out for milk and never drink that cup of tea on the worktop that I find particularly chilling.
Poignantly, Stephen’s last Twitter update read:
“still busy – lots going on. Focussing (sic) on finishing my book next so may be quiet here.”
I have no doubt that his book will be finished and on the shelves in time for Christmas but as for the rest of us, how many of us will shuffle off never having said or written the things we wanted to?
For many people, writing is something we can put off until we’re older; a bit like finding God, we’ll do it when we’ve got a bit more time on our hands! I’m no different – although I write for a living, like many people, I still find it difficult to find time to write for myself.
When I need motivation, however, I don’t need to look any further than my two teenage diaries which documented a few months each of 1984 and 1987. Although they were brief, I still managed to chart such events as Marvin Gaye’s murder, the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise and my flirtation with a loveable rogue called Jason! These diaries remind me that by keeping a diary now then when (or if!) I’m older, I will be able to recall my children’s early lives in similarly vivid detail and not have to rely on a jumble of vague memories.
The challenge for many of us is finding time to write, on top of working, raising our families and doing our best to fend off the grim reaper! The answer is, I believe, to start small. And the fact is that anyone who posts the occasional update to an online networking service or forum has already done so.
So if you struggle to find the time to write every day but do manage to get onto Facebook or Twitter, why not turn your online updates into a diary? As you get into the habit of keeping your diary up-to-date, you will probably start to add clarifying details and, before you know it, updating your diary will have become a part of your daily routine.