Here's How! Beginning to Journal

I always suggest that instead of an expensive, carefully-bound book with so many blank pages in it that you choose a simple legal pad with lines and a margin, or a spiral bound copy book. How can I possibly fill it up? It is much less daunting and will encourage you to put everything you want to include in it without thinking, “Oh, that book is too beautiful, special, etc. I couldn’t put something as unseemly, ugly, distasteful like that in it!” Your journal is waiting for you to show up and write whatever it is you need to. And I encourage you to leave the first sheet empty with only the date you begin to write in it and – if you like – using the Native American idea of “medicine”: THIS IS MY MEDICINE – DO NOT READ !

Consider the page that appears before you as an invitation to write or doodle or draw or insert a photo. And to use a pen with different colors of ink or a mechanical pencil that you enjoy writing with that might have a fine or a broad point. Deciding on a special writing tool that you will use only for journal writing may have its downside. What happens if you cannot find it tomorrow? Will that prevent you from writing? In any case, you are the boss. It is your journal and your needs take precedence over the pad, the pen or pencil or the content. 

Several people have told me how unhappy they were with their handwriting, and, as well, that they can write so much more quickly at the computer. Objecting to your own handwriting is but another way of putting an obstacle in your path to writing a journal. And while computers may facilitate writing and can be used in the case of physical impairment, it doesn’t develop the important connection that writing with a pen in your hand does. The body/mind/ spirit connection is forged in the act of setting down the words of your entry. It is, in fact, an entry into a different world that is waiting to be explored through the writing process.

The other reason for writing in longhand is that there is no key to press, as there is on the computer to spell-check what you’ve written. The moment you begin editing what is on the page, you stop journal writing. Editing is quite a different activity from journaling. And that is what you are sitting down to do! Neither spelling, nor grammar, nor punctuation is of the slightest importance when you journal. When you make it your focus, journaling stops. The place in which you write and the time, as well, are decisions for you to make from the outset. You need to choose a comfortable chair or setting that will encourage your efforts and not an environment in which you feel constrained or inhibited. If you always pay your bills sitting at the kitchen table it would be a good idea to select a different place to journal. Writing outdoors is another possibility, or writing in a coffee shop if you are comfortable with other people talking or working at their computers around you. 

If you choose to write at night, leaning against comfortable pillows might work well – as long as you don’t fall asleep. The time of day or night you write depends upon your own rhythms and availability. I have gotten so accustomed to the process that I’ve written in airplanes, bus terminals, trains, concerts, antique shows, hospitals and doctors’ offices. A doctor’s office is one of the best places to write while you are waiting for the nurse to call you that the doctor will see you. Writing there diffuses some of the anxiety that often precedes medical appointments, so I write about it instead of keeping it inside. I let it out on the page. And this is one of the best uses of the journal – de-stressing emotions and making room for other feelings. 

Watching the television is not a good time for journaling. Television is about someone or something other than you. Journal writing is all about you.

I also recommend that you make a decision before you begin writing whether or not you will answer the telephone if it rings. That is entirely your decision. Again, you are the boss.

Make an appointment with yourself to write at the same time every day, and if you fail to make it – it’s not the end of the world or the end of writing in your journal. If you make it a priority in your life, it will come to be natural and easy to do. And that is what journal writing can become for you – natural and easy. 

If you’ve never written a journal before, or if you once wrote one, you can begin from today to begin enjoying the benefits of journal writing. In my next blog, I will go into detail about all the benefits of journal writing. Check back soon to find out how  to receive 52 weeks of suggestions for journal writing: SOUNDINGS.

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