Meet my therapist and faithful friend, the Journal. As one who carries a journal mostly everywhere and always, saving me a small fortune in psychiatric fees I assure you, I’m hoping to encourage you in your own journal keeping journey whoever you are and wherever you are headed. Whether you write for fun, work, or for some other compelling reason or whether you are a creative person looking to overcome your fear of writing or a non creative person trying to tap your creativity, the bottom line is this: You have a wellspring of inspiration within you, I hope I can help you see that which is already there.
I will cover three basic areas of focus concerning the act of writing of all kinds.
For me, writing anything usually begins in my journal, so I will share a few thoughts on Journal Keeping and the power and possibilities therein.
Secondly, I am no expert but I know what it is like to have to write something and feel the weight of pressure that blocks the mind, creativity and flowing words. The writer’s enemy across the board is Writer’s Block…but perhaps we can explore how it might be accepted as a gift, and see how this shift changes our perception, and ability to set words free again.
Lastly, I believe the only thing potentially worse than dreaded Writer’s Block and deadly to creativity of all kinds is Perfectionism. I hope that my words today on these three topics will bring a fresh insight or two, or just a refreshing splash of inspiration to your writing life, wherever it is at this moment.
I usually start my day writing. Every day. I grab my coffee and current journal, and on most days – not all- my Bible. During this time I am certainly not legalistic in my approach. I might read a few chapters in the Bible, or I might just sit, watching the birds, listening to the quiet as I rock gently, out back, in the veranda. There are days when I sit and words come easy, pouring forth from my pen after reading passages, listening, praying. Other days, I barely scratch out a line.
But it is the showing up, day in and day out that pays off.
There are days I need to ponder more deeply my words, revelations, thoughts. There are days I need to listen harder to that still small voice within. Oh, and then there are days when busy-ness and life intrude. No worries, the Good Book and the Journal travel well. But if I have to pick one, I carry my journal. God’s Word is engraved in my heart, but my journal must be with me wherever I am. Just in case, I receive a word, need to vent (I go to the journal most times, not the phone, friends), need to feel the connection between myself and my God. The pen is my chariot, bringing me ever higher to the heavenlies. Even when it pours forth ugliness. The heart is more naked than we know. We all are ultimately laid bare. It is a worthy goal to have no pretense in living, and writing. The journal is the place from which everything else in my life (especially creatively) springboards. Prose for poetry, blog posts, and other writings are natural outflows of my journal writing time. I am not writing for audience when I journal but certainly that which starts privately on my pages prompts most of what you see published publicly. Sometimes I just scratch out a title, a thought, sentence or paragraph – randomly,while journaling, which gives rise to more. I scribble the idea seed on the page and return my mind to the prior writing entry before the little seed bursts forth further, interrupting my train of thought. Is it my ADHD, or is it just the creative spark in action? Either way journaling regularly, those seeds come.
Deadlines and To Do lists. They either make you swoon with anticipation or slow your every ounce of creativity to a torturous drip, drip, drip. It’s one thing to write when you are excited about the topic, but what when you have to write for a deadline, for money or commitment. I can’t speak to the writing for cash but for a scant job (or two) many years ago when I wrote a poem for a jewelry company about birthstones for a pittance. Of course the dreaded endless papers written for college and presentations are another issue. The word deadline can be the kiss of life or death for creativity, right? But here is my two cents…my pittance, if you will. Because I write in my journal so frequently, my richest times of creativity flow have already been poured out. When I feel dry, I just look back and pull inspiration from my more fluid days of writing. Guess what that does? It surprises me and releases me from the clamp of Writer’s Block because obviously, I can see I had a plethora (love that word!) of ideas, and ramblings just awhile back. Perspective is important for the days when you feel the impending deadline coming and stare at the computer screen or blank page as a deer staring into the headlights. You know what’s coming but you just can’t move. Well, get out of the road and read your old stuff. For a real shocker, read some of your college papers. Or old journals, secret hidden writings, blog posts etc. Read your own writing. It will do more for you than reading anyone else’s. Before you conclude I am an eccentric egomaniac, I hope to assure you, I am. No, just kidding. I read myself, because I am real in my journals…and I need to remember who I am, warts and all when I am in the desert with my writing…or afraid I can’t make or live up to the deadline! I also see how my writing has changed and grown. I like to edit my older writings. I catch things that I missed on previous edits and simultaneously, I am reminded that I am not a totally sucky writer. Hooray! The same is true for you. Will you try it and let me know, the next time you feel ready to choke your computer?
So you treated yourself to that pretty, new journal. Yet when you look at the pages you want to try and well, ya know…be perfect. Sigh. Listen to me. Forget this being perfect crap. Go look in the mirror. Go! Now! Get a wooden spoon from the kitchen draw, and hit yourself Repeat to your reflection, “My messy is just fine, I don’t need to be perfect, or write perfectly, I just need to keep it real and the rest will flow.” Now see that fresh new journal page. See all the empty pages before you? I want you to grab a cup of coffee, take a big, sloppy, sip and let it trickle down the outside of the mug. DO NOT get a coaster or a napkin. Instead take it and set it in the corner of the first perfect page of your journal. Let it sit there for a minute. Now pick it up and have another sip and do whatever you want with the cup. See that stain? Good. Now you don’t have to worry anymore about how everything needs to be so perfect in your journal, writing or life. Life is messy. Let your writing reflect what is real. Whatever your message is, needs to be filtered by only one thing: your own authenticity. I mean, your messy, coffee stained, crooked life is the one that will keep you connected to who you really are beneath the surface. Your voice comes through beautifully when it’s a bit mussed up. Let all you write, create, just reflect the real you. Obviously your journal holds safely your musings before you polish and shine them up for the world to see. But, the more you allow yourself your journal space to hash it all out, the more powerful your authentic voice becomes publicly.
Well, I hope this post encouraged you in your journey…and by the way, this post was written and shared on my old blog, freshly edited (again) and re-shared, because I happen to think it might be useful to you who are on this journey right now.
Our final posts for the upcoming week:
Day 15: Prompt 15 – The Letter
Day 16: Prompt 16 – Every Picture Tells A Story
Day 17: Prompt 17 – Second Chances
Day 18: Prompt 18 – A Providential Moment
Day 19: Prompt 19 – The Power of Words
Day 20: Prompt 20 – When I Was a Little Girl…
Day 21: Prompt 21- Oh, The Places We’ll Go!
*Please join me for a Journal Keeping Round Up January 28th (Wednesday) to share your concluding thoughts, favorite prompts and any insights gained on your journaling journey. Consider also joining in with our Random Journal Day on February 6th (Friday)!
Now go and set your words free.