Monday, 9 November 2015

Keeping a Journal 101

Writing in a journal or diary is a useful and simple way to sort through your thoughts and feelings. You can write words you would never speak. You can draw and muse and meander or you can record daily events and weather.

I have a friend who has written in her diary every single day since she was a girl, and she's now in her seventies. Some of her entries are short and simple -- Storm today, for example -- while others contain significant ups and downs, emotions and ideas. While I don't come even close to that sort of constancy, my journals provide me with a welcome outlet for muddled thoughts and exploding emotions, for plans and possibilities.

In most journaling workshops I offer, I meet people who have never kept a journal and feel they don't know how to start. In response I quote The King in Alice in Wonderland: "Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop." In other words, just get started. What you need to say will come out, and you can stop when you're done. Spelling and punctuation are not important, and it doesn't matter when or where you do your writing.

So find yourself a simple spiral notebook, a beautiful hardbound journal, or a new "sheet of paper" on your computer and give it a try. I suggest you write the date at the top of each entry; it can be interesting to look back later and see what you thought or what was going on at this time in your life.

Here are two good ideas to start with if you've never journaled before or would like to get back to it:
  1. Write this sentence starter and then finish it with whatever comes to mind: I have no idea what to write, so I'll write about the time somebody told me...
  2. Describe the weather at this exact moment or when you first woke up. Does the weather affect your mood or what you do?
From time to time I will offer other journaling ideas in this space. Have fun, record your life for posterity, or explore your inner workings. Your journal won't tell.

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