Journaling has been a creative writing activity that I’ve participated on a moderate to consistent basis for almost 19 years. My collection of notebooks and journals for the majority of this time period is my most valuable possession. They represent a historical and written account of my thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, ideas, etc. In addition, journaling has been one of my best therapeutic coping skills to help me address and manage my personal issues, including relationship woes, financial setbacks, career frustrations, family drama, and creative challenges.
I always encourage any person who is serious about becoming a writer to start journaling. All a person needs to get started is to acquire any type of record keeping document (legal pad, notebook, journal, etc.) and his or her favorite writing instrument (pen or pencil). He or she could also substitute an electronic device like a laptop, iPad, or cell phone that has the proper writing software to get the job done, something that I did last year now that I’m more comfortable journaling on my laptop and electronically storing my Microsoft Word entries. It’s not that difficult to begin as long as that person makes the effort to stay consistent with his or her writing. Sometimes I’ve always problems staying consistent with my writing, allowing negative thoughts to interfere with my creative process.
Last year in the spring of 2014, I participated in a closed, online journaling group via Facebook where I had to engage in writing for 27 days, reading Mari McCarthy’s Peace of Mind and Body: 27 Days of Journaling to Health & Happiness. I accidentally stumbled upon Mari’s website, www.createwritenow.com, while searching online for assignments I could use in the journaling counseling group I facilitate as a therapist at my employer. I became intrigued by the book and also an opportunity to rejuvenate my creativity. Group members were required to purchase and read Mari’s workbook, and then journal and post online their thoughts about various daily topics including, but not limited to, awareness, fear, inner child, health, food, and passion. For me, this was a major challenge because I had to 1) write consistently on a daily basis (something I hadn’t done in quite some time), 2) share my thoughts online with the other participants (something I wasn’t initially comfortable with because I don’t like writing groups), and 3) give feedback to the other writers (something I could easily do versus the first two items).
Engaging in Mari’s journaling group was one of the best decisions I ever made. The benefits I gained from this rewarding experience included the following:
1. Accountability for writing consistently
2.Addressing my fears that were inside my thoughts
3. Gaining insight about how my creativity is an extension of my spirituality
4. Overcoming my insecurities about the quality of my writing
5. Networking, receiving, and giving positive feedback and encouragement from and to other writers
6. Discovering that not all writing groups are horrible just because I had a bad experience or two in the past
7, Recognizing that writer’s block is nonexistent as long as I write something, anything
8. Rejuvenating my enthusiasm and dedicate to write
Although journaling has its positives, it also has its negatives, one that I recently discovered while doing so the other day. While journaling allows me to do some personal writing for me, my enthusiasm to journal is becoming a substitute for taking action working on some unfinished manuscripts, poems, short stories, etc. I have to make a better conscious effort to allocate my time to being productive with my writing to accomplish my creative and literary aspirations. This is a pitfall that I’ve fallen into many times in the past and the present until the proverbial light bulb illuminated inside my mind this morning during my 4:00 a.m., when I asked myself, “Bill, when are going to start dedicating as much time towards completing these unfinished projects like you do when you journal?” Excellent point and lesson learned. Mm hmmm.
If I never write, publish, or recite publicly another piece of literature again, I will continue to journal until I die. Journaling is a natural function of my existence like breathing, eating, sleeping, and exercising. It has been very beneficial towards jumpstarting my creativity, which serves its purpose for me to consistently write. However, it’s important for me to establish boundaries so that journaling does not interfere with my other literary endeavors, including the writing and publishing of this latest blog post. Yes, indeed.
Take care and be blessed.