Congratulations to Dawn Herring on the fifth anniversary of her wonderful creation – #JournalChat Live. In celebration I’ve written my thoughts about journaling’s greatest benefit to me. I also share my favorite technique for writing my journal entries and offer a bit of journaling advice for those who want to start out. Dawn invited me to participate in a live #JournalChat on Twitter and Facebook in early April. (Click the link for a transcript of our journaling conversation.) I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Dawn’s love of all things journaling has been a huge inspiration to me.
Here’s to Dawn Herring and an early happy anniversary wish to #JournalChat Live.
I took up journaling seriously for the first time during my thirties while I lived with my husband and our two sons for nineteen months on a remote island in the South Pacific. I felt so isolated on this tiny island that the best I could do was write long rants every morning before the boys woke up. Happily those rants turned into my first published article after we returned home.
Than I started to journal for keeps when our older son Paul was diagnosed as bipolar in 1993 and after his suicide in September 1999. Keeping my fingers moving across the page became both an obsession and a balm – my therapy, a daily habit. Writing through my grief totally turned my life around. Journaling gives me a way to organize my fears, pain, and thoughts. As a result I have become a huge proponent of journaling as a way to heal because it allows me to put my pain on the page. I journal every day.
Most everyone I know has good and bad stuff going on in their lives. I learned journaling is a way to come to grips with that. Journaling also gave me a wonderful gift. I discovered I could write, and I created a book from the memories I wrote down in my journal entries. I recommend everyone try it and learn the benefits that can be gained from journaling.
My Favorite Journaling Technique
At first I wrote in notebooks – the finer the better. I especially love the ones I bought in France and later found at my local stationery shop – Clairefontaine. The pages are thick and slick and don’t show through to the backside when written on in ink. Also the covers are in beautiful jewel-tones. I always felt like I wrote in a very special place when I wrote in those notebooks.
However, a few years ago – after being so careful to clutch my notebooks close to my chest any time I was out and about – I left one in the seat pocket in front of me while on a flight home. And personally going to the airline’s lost and found didn’t get the notebook back. Now I use my notebooks for taking workshop notes. I write my journal entries on my computer.
Though I write my journal entries plain – no artwork, no clippings, no beautiful handwriting – in Microsoft word, even the physical act of writing is helpful. When I used a pen I wrote until my hand cramped. Now when I type, I sometimes pound my fingers on my computer’s keyboard. That really works to heal my stress. Also when I wrote by hand I found that I couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. Now when I write on the computer I sometimes type 500 to 750 words in a matter of minutes. I tap away with no stopping for editing. It’s total stream of consciousness. My fingers seem to fly in time with what I have on my mind.
An Encouraging Word for Those Starting Out
During a dinner with three of my former work colleagues a while ago, one woman shared that she’d like to do something besides work – something creative. I suggested classes – jewelry making or learning a language. But she said she’d like to get into writing. I asked her if she journaled, and she actually physically moved away from that subject. She said she couldn’t write down anything private for fear of it getting into the wrong hands.
Of course that’s the fear of all of us who journal, but it hasn’t stopped me. The computer gives me the ability to have complete privacy – the key to honest and open journaling. I keep my journal entries in a password-protected locked document file, which seems so much safer than the risk of losing a journal notebook someplace where anyone can get their hands and eyes on it. I find that keeping our precious and secret journals private is also easier when journaling digitally. However, no matter how we journal – either digitally or by hand – I recommend everyone try to learn its benefits.
So I told my friend not to be daunted about starting her journal writing – I suggested she start writing for about fifteen minutes a day – and that she could write any time, anyplace.
I’ve been journaling regularly for over twenty years and have never felt violated. Also I’ve found it to be a good way to kick-start other writing pieces. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, all began with journal entries.
About Dawn Herring: Dawn is a watercolor and collage artist, writer, host of #JournalChat Live and a creative and social media consultant. She enjoys sharing insights, humor, and encouragement as she shares from her life experiences. She enjoys keeping a journal and reading spiritual texts to help keep the light on. One of Dawn’s mantras is: “Refresh yourself.”
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