Saturday, August 11, 2007

Journal Writing

Journal Writing

Journal writing is a well-known and effective technique. It is a technique I use myself and frequently recommend to others, whether they be family, friends or clients. Several books have been written about the ins-and-outs of journal writing and the really good thing is you don't need any formal training or skill to do it... it is something everybody can do and benefit from.

So... what is journal writing all about? Many of us have major blocks when it comes to the thought of writing... "I'm not a writer!"...... "What would I write?"... "I don't know where to start!"... "What do I say?"... Does this sound familiar? These were a few thoughts running through my head when I first heard about the benefits of journal writing.

As a child, I had often kept a diary... to record what was happening in my life -- what I was doing, where I'd been, and sometimes to record how I was feeling and what was troubling me. My diary was a hit and miss thing... I would go for months diligently writing each day and then a couple of years would go by before anything was recorded. I thought it was just a "girly" thing to do while growing up... but in my 4th year of psychology, at Uni, I learned about the true value of journal writing.

Keeping a journal was a course requirement of one of my classes; the instructions were clear -- we had to write about our reactions and feelings towards what was happening in our life -- not about "what" was happening, but about "how we were reacting" to it and "how we felt" about it. And it was here that I discovered how beneficial journal writing can be. Once you get beyond just recording events, and begin to write your feelings and thoughts... this is where the real benefit lies.

Things to remember:
-- your journal writing is for your eyes only! You are not writing an academic article, or an assignment, a report or something that is going to be read by any other person but you.
-- because your journal writing is only for you, don't worry about grammar, punctuation, making sense, neatness, or sentence structure. The thing is to just write and write and write.
-- it is beneficial to date every entry -- e.g. Saturday 11/8/07. This is useful when you want to reread your journal; you can see how you were going at a certain time in your life and where you are now.
-- there is no right or wrong way for journal writing -- it is a very personal experience and you will find your own way.

How to get started:
-- get yourself a large notebook, writing pad, diary, personal journal, set yourself up with a folder on your computer, or whatever, that is specifically where you will do your writing.
-- you can handwrite or use a computer. Handwriting is a lot more flexible because you can do your writing in the park, in the car, in bed or wherever you get the urge.
-- find a place where you can keep your journal where no one else can see it or find it.
-- when you first start, your writing may feel stilted or awkward... but just keep going and soon you will find that thoughts will begin to flow and you will be writing almost automatically. Sometimes I don't think I will write any more than a couple of lines but once I get going it begins to flow and sometimes I end up with 1 or 2 pages.
-- it doesn't matter if you only write a couple of words, or a saga. Length isn't important.
-- in the beginning it can be useful to set aside a certain period of the day where you will do your writing; this isn't always possible because of commitments and schedules but try to do some journal writing each day.

Benefits of journal writing:
-- it's a great way get your feelings and thoughts out of your system. To offload. We all know how good it can feel to talk things over with someone but sometimes we can't get access to someone to talk to. It could be at 2 a.m. and difficult or inconvenient to contact someone. This is where your journal comes in handy -- it is always available. But please note, your journal is not to replace talking with someone e.g. your counsellor, Dr, or good friend or family member.
-- you may not have someone that you can talk to about your personal problems or feelings.
-- your journal is easily accessible at any time on any day.
-- if you have trouble sleeping, keep paper and pen by your bedside. When you have thoughts racing through your head preventing you from sleeping -- write them down. Once again it gets it out of your system and stops the continual thinking.
-- journal writing can help you clarify what you are feeling and thinking. It can help you let go of things that keep going around and around in your heart and head.
-- you may have something on your mind that you don't feel comfortable talking to someone about... you can say what you want in your journal without feeling embarrassed, your journal will not judge or criticise you.
-- your journal can become a very good friend!

I encourage you to give it a go... to see for yourself.

These are some of my thoughts on journal writing. I would like to hear what you think about journal writing, how you find it, or difficulties you have with writing. You can leave a post on this blog or e-mail me -- a link to my website is on this blog.

Until next time.
Take care

No comments: