As a long-term writer and journaler, I know the benefits that journaling can bring. That’s not to say that I journal or write every day, but I do on most days, even if it is just a word.
The belief that you cannot write stems from childhood. Can you remember being told you couldn’t or shouldn’t write? What about rushing in to share a story and no-one was interested? It’s such a shame isn’t it that we lose our confidence to write and get connected to our soul’s voice and story.
Journaling is private and to be honest there are not any rules, just your way of doing it.
But let’s go back to the belief. Like most belief’s this one about writing and journaling will as I have said started in childhood, where some unthinking person voiced an unfounded opinion which went onto to shape our self-image and belief. Like a tightly wrapped ball of wool, it can take years to unravel the mish-mash of patterns imprinted in our subconscious.
The fabulous thing about journaling is that nobody needs to know what you write or how you write it. You have permission to leave the inner critic on the park bench sipping cold tea and eating mouldy sandwiches, it’s the best they deserve.
Journaling is a wonderful way to flex your writing muscles, get to the heart of who you are and begin a potential journey into telling your story. Before you freak and think that you cannot write a book, consider this – start with your journal, enjoy that and then consider where to go next. I know many a person start with a scribble and eventually publish a book.
I believe that you can write and journaling is the key to unlocking your words
There are many reasons for keeping a journal. It may be that wish to simply record the day’s events and to find an outlet for ‘stuff’ which did not make sense at the time but which through journaling and writing you have been able to gain some understanding. You may wish to use your journal as a way to record information for a book that you always wanted to write; your journal will enable you to keep an accurate timeline for events. The purpose of this blog is to invite you to start your journal writing so that you can use it as a way to raise your self-awareness and make positive changes in your life.
This morning I wrote this:
We lived, we loved, we existed. Sure there were good times. That I do not deny. But beneath the surface was a seething rotting mess. This letter is my last communication with your dark soul. You are a part of something that I am vanquishing from my body and from my soul. I thank you for the love, the laughs, the presents and the pain. Your pain was not mine to absorb, yet I did. I absorbed it into my being and became responsible for it. I wanted you to be happy, more than I was. But wanting happiness for others while we self-destruct seeps through the membranes and destroys us.
I wrote it with nothing in mind, I allowed what needed to be unlocked to flow free. It is only a part of a mountain of pages I scribbled. I’ve found my writing zone and my way. Now I invite you to find yours.
Journaling can be easy, consider these points.
Where can you start your journaling?
Decide where do you want to write? In bed, the lounge, conservatory, your office, in your favourite comfy chair. It is important that you find a place that you feel at ease, which relaxes you, and enables you the comfort and space to begin to write. When you are in the right space and that includes headspace your writing will flow.
When do you want to write? First thing in the morning? Last thing at night? In the evening after dinner?
Once you have decided that you will journal then you need to decide how you would like to journal. There is more than one way to keep a journal.
Notebook and pen
There are lots of different kinds of notebooks and journals on the market, some are beautiful, others are very practical. You can buy some great journals from your local supermarket for not a lot. I love beautiful journals and the quality of the paper is important to me. It wasn’t always this way – I used to buy cheap journals and over time this changed.
You might even want to use a different notebook for different parts of your life. E.g. Day to day events, people, food and body etc. I know people who find it hard to journal and when I have suggested that they keep a pile of different journals by the side of their bed and pick one according to their mood, they have found it much easier.
Pens, I have a huge collection of pens, pencils and highlighters, and depending on my mood will depend on which I use. I feel a little like Pauline with her pens (League of Gentlemen), one of her sayings that still tickles me is “Everything I know about people I learned from pens. If they don’t work, you shake them. And if they still don’t work, you chuck them away. Bin ‘em.”
Computer and some sort of software
I used to use journaling software because I wanted absolute privacy, but I missed writing with a pen so although I was able to record my deepest feelings, it didn’t quite give me what I wanted. But if this works for you, you can use WORD or Evernote which you can password protect. The most important thing is to choose some software that suits you.
For scrapbooking, I like to use an artist book. I collect pictures and words from magazines and newspapers which resonate with me. Then when I am in a creative frame of mind I simply start to create pictures’of where I am and what I want in my life. I might also scribble or doodle. Alongside the pictures, I will write whatever comes up.
Video or voice recording journaling
With Smartphones, there are lots of opportunities to be able to video anything you want to say and capture. This adds an extra dimension to your journaling. I often find that when I am walking with the dogs that stuff comes to mind which I want to record. When I listen back later I can make sense of it in my journal. Got something you need to say to yourself and no paper or pen; get your phone out.
What else needs to happen to help you to write?
Instead of worrying about where, when, how or why, just start. Write anything and trust that your writing muse will come along and take over.
If you need a prompt, you could start with a question and see where it goes.
- Should I stay in this relationship?
- What do I really want from this job?
- What is bothering me about …….?
Or bring an event to mind and ask yourself:-
- What did I see?
- What did I feel?
- What did I smell/taste?
- What did I hear?
Before I start to write I sit in silence, sometimes closing my eyes and focusing on my breath. Sometimes I will meditate. I have a Proteus light and sound machine, I’m subscribed to Zen12 or I head over to YouTube. You will be amazed how once you start how it all flows and the most important thing for me is that even if it is only one sentence, it’s a start.
When you write about your day make sure it is absolutely true, write what you think, feel, hear and see. This is your truth and not a made up world. You may cringe, laugh or cry when you read it back. That’s the point; it’s how you felt at that time. As you know yourself better, you will see repeated patterns of behaviour in yourself and others and that’s when you can start to make changes.
Begin journaling today, who knows where it will take you? You may, as I have said, find stories in you that you must write and share and writing it a book might not be that far away.
It doesn’t matter that you haven’t recorded the last 20, 30, 40 years, today is the perfect day to start your journaling and your journey into yourself.
The bottom line is to remember, there are no rules and to find a way to make this awesome tool work for you.
The Writing Zone
Writing is a wonderful way to get your stuff out, it is cathartic, helps to release stress, ignites your creativity and provides a way to reflect on events so that you can make changes happen.
The Writing Zone is a monthly club where you can get yourself into the writing zone and explore you and your writing.
You will begin to discover hidden thoughts, emotions, lost memories and repeated patterns of behaviour which may not be serving you well. Through the guided writing exercises, you have the chance to go deep within and to look out with fresh vision.