You don’t have to be a writer to journal

I’ve written in journals and diaries on and off for over 35 years. I’m sure I started in one of those small diaries from the newsagency with a lock and tiny key. I have a vague memory of a glossy black one, maybe with a white Pierrot clown on it and a silver lock and key. No idea where it is now!

I do have a purple exercise book which I used as a journal when I was in grade five, hiding it carefully in the narrow gap between my desk drawers and my desk. Clearly it’s very valuable, it was marked down from 60 cents to 49 cents! And clearly I had a tenuous start as an editor – I couldn’t distinguish between dairy and diary! I started a new blank journal yesterday, which I bought from the Bespoke Press in Bowral. It’s a gorgeous grey linen book with patterned endpapers and gold embossed letters.

I write in my journal to make sense of the thoughts swirling around in my head and to empty my mind so that I can see clearly. I write a lot of lists so that my words can be at their most basic and concrete – this is at odds with my literary writing where I’m writing free verse poems.

I keep all my journals but rarely read over them, only occasionally pulling out one from years ago to compare the me from then to the me now. Same-same, different.

In these uncertain times, journal writing is a lifeline to me. I wonder whether it might be to you, too, or whether it’s a chance to discover if this is the case?

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big magic, Eat pray love, The signature of all things and City of girls, recently posted a talk on Insight Timer, a meditation app. She talked about living with fear – she says she has a lot of experience. Every morning, she writes a letter to herself from love in order to calm the fear. The fear doesn’t go away, she says, but writing a letter from love calms it down. Her talk is incredibly wise – please listen.

Sarah Selecky, the Canadian author who ran the writing retreat I recently attended, is running a free writing prompt workshop, Writing through uncertainty. If you don’t like the idea of writing personal journal entries, you might like the idea of writing to a prompt each day for 30 days. Today’s prompt was to write ten random sentences that aren’t connected to each other. Sarah suggests you set aside ten minutes every day to write to the prompt.

Julia Cameron, who has written too many books to mention but is most well-known for her book, The artist’s way, introduced a practice called morning pages. Artists from all disciplines use it. Every day, as early as you can, you write three pages by hand. Anything and everything. It clears the mind, filtering out the negative thoughts and worries, the nagging should list, the inner critic so your mind is clear for creating. Or in today’s world, clear for not worrying.

I have been using the app Curable which helps users to manage and decrease chronic pain – I have migraines. One of the four activities Curable provides is writing exercises, usually a twenty minute process. I am always amazed at how insightful my writing is after doing an exercise. I can’t recommend this app highly enough, and at the moment they have a 50% price reduction.

Let me know in the comments if you are a journaller (consistent or not so) or if it’s something you’d like to try. It is an excuse to indulgence in pretty stationery!

 

2 comments

  1. Keeping a diary in these unusual times would be interesting reading for grandchildren too young to really understand impact.

    Hope all your readers are well.

  2. I have kept journals for many years. Sometimes faithfully writing every night, sometimes not for months. I always write when we go away. I have read to my husband about our trips. He loves hearing what we’ve done and then we have a few laughs about situations we found ourselves in. Now we all find ourselves in a world that has shrunken and we have become one nation. Writing everyday is a release everyone can do.

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