Journal Keeping, Writer’s Block and Perfectionism

photo credit: Jack Mallon via photopin cc

photo credit: Jack Mallon via photopin cc

 

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.

 

Journal Keeping

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.

Writer’s Block

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?

 

Perfectionism                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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.  

Journal on.

 

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. christadelsorbo
    Jan 18, 2015 @ 23:11:42

    “But it is the showing up, day in and day out that pays off.” Ah, yes. This.
    Thank you. I needed it. All of it. ❤

    Reply

  2. Barbara
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 11:12:34

    Well, Dawn, if I were to comment what I just wrote in my journal…it would be a full post in response to what I just read!!!!! All I can say is THANK YOU, DAWN!! I will read and re-read these words of inspiration – I jotted some of them into my journal for future inspiration! I don’t necessarily write every day; but it IS a place I go to if I need to “vent”…my therapy for sure!

    And, I have writer’s block all the time; just as I have “creative block” or “scrapper’s block” (from scrapbooking)!

    Perfectionism?! Hah! I cross out and smudge out and change directions all the time in my journal. The one thing I am a “perfectionist” about – but am changing that one too! – is my pen…when I start a new journal, I pick a new pen and attempt to use only that pen! But I have switched it up to using four colorful pens – pink, purple, green and blue – and still use the black pen.

    But, I don’t think I’ve ever really jotted inspiriation or thoughts down to use in blogging or journaling…but when I do go back and read – I jot things down like “this is no different now!” and date it.

    Well, I DID end up writing a long comment! But I loved your post and received a lot of encouragement from it…I will continue to write, both in my journal and in my blog!!

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

    Reply

    • enthusiasticallydawn
      Jan 19, 2015 @ 20:32:20

      Barbara, I am so glad that these words wore a source of encouragement for you, that is truly the greatest gift I could ask for in sharing them. I can be very possessive of my pens yet, in the end as long as I have pen and paper I am happy…regardless. BUT I do like to mix it up, mostly black and purple, but I also like to journal with pink and blue. I like to explore pens…I want to try a Coletto, next…and have you heard of Jetpens?

      Reply

  3. Mary Sayler
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 11:33:39

    Thanks, Dawn. I’ll highlight this on the Christian Poets & Writers blog – http://www.christianpoetsandwriters.com. God bless.

    Reply

  4. misskathypwp
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 13:23:05

    Great post, Dawn! Although, the perfectionism issue is a must have for me at present. I just got my book delivered!!!! Don’t celebrate too fast–it wasn’t PERFECT. The cover wasn’t centered and the poor quality of the first impression looking at it said “amateur–give it a pass.” There is a time for messy (you should see all my random journal notes stuck to my desk at present) and there is a time to put them all in order (my new art journal work plan and station coming to a Blogland post beginning of February in time for your link-up) AND–a time to be picky and perfectionist to the bittiest point. Especially when quality and reputation are on the line–that cost a great deal of money time and tears. Yes . . . all things have their place and time.

    Love your early morning listening, rocking, and taking in the joy of birdland on the veranda. Me . . . too . . .

    Joy!
    Kathy

    Reply

  5. I Carried a Watermelon
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 19:49:37

    Oh, how I wish I could begin every day with Bible and journal, but my work schedule prevents that. I have to be content with grabbing both when I get home from the morning bus runs. It’s still good time with my Lord and myself, but it’s also not the same as first thing. First thing sets the tone for the day.

    Deadlines…..I hate them with a passion, but even so, I do some of my best writing under pressure at the very last minute. I admit every single paper I’ve ever written for high school, college, and even seminary has been typed out once and once only, the night before it was due.

    Perfectionism. I has it. I’ve been known to toss a journal and start a new one because I wasn’t satisfied with how an entry looked. :/

    I’m sorry I’ve missed out on this journaling exercise. You know I love them, but life just did not cooperate this time around. It was too busy dumping all manner of heartache and stress on us.

    Reply

    • enthusiasticallydawn
      Jan 19, 2015 @ 20:27:09

      Stacy, sorry to hear that life has been stressful. And I totally undertstand about not being able to get in the word first thing, but I am sure there is grace for that and any time with Him is better than none…and of course there is the whole Brother Lawrence philosophy, the abiding. I will have to swing by and catch up at your place – I have been not making the rounds as often lately.

      Reply

  6. kelrohlf
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 20:10:12

    Great post…inspiring and practical and full life giving enthusiasm 🙂 I’m motivated to write! Thx dear Dawn! Keep pouring on the encouragement …
    Love ya Kel

    Reply

  7. nicki schroeder
    Jan 24, 2015 @ 10:08:01

    Hello fellow FMFF writer. 🙂 Love this: “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.” You’ve inspired me to bring my journal with me everywhere this week and see what happens. Blessings!

    Reply

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