Benefiting From a Journal

“We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and meditation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance.” – Julia Cameron

Since the New Year, I’ve been writing in my journal every day. In the past I hand wrote my entries in notebooks, but now I typically use the computer. My handwriting is difficult for even me to read, and the computer helps me track how many words I write each day.

Some days, I do self-guided journaling and answer a question such as “What are my priorities for this week?” Other days I free write about whatever comes to mind. This is similar to the concept of morning pages that Julia Cameron writes about: “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.”

Journaling every day gives me unexpected benefits. It ensures that I reflect on my life and don’t just go through the motions. Recently, I pondered what was stopping me from entering a writing contest. A reviewer had made an offensive remark about the piece I wanted to submit. Writing about this made me realize the comment had been made on an early draft. My resistance melted and I submitted the piece. Since the New Year, I’ve submitted three items to contests and a magazine.

Journaling helps me articulate what’s important and what’s not. It helps me make decisions such as: “Should I apply for a part-time job?” and “Do I want to go to my women’s club meeting today?”

My journal also helps me process dramas in my life. An acquaintance recently made a thoughtless comment that insulted me. I wrote about what happened and my feelings about it. I realized the remark said more about her than me. Journaling lets us vent without ruining someone else’s day. We can put our angst on the page and get it out of our heads.

On a bad day, I write in my journal and ask how I can make the day go better. In that way, journaling is like a conversation with my wiser self. One day I was frustrated and decided I simply needed to get things done. I listed in my journal what I wanted to do, turned off the computer, and did them.

On another day everything was going wrong. I wrote it all down including “Dexter (my dog) threw up three times.” “I burned the spaghetti sauce.” “I feel frumpy today.” Eventually I admonished myself. “Well, whine, whine, whine, Sue! This is an unbelievable amount of crabbing and ‘poor me’ attitude. I am probably simply tired.” I went to bed early, and the next day went well.

When a problem is too great for even my wiser self, my journal becomes a prayer. I write “Dear God, why do things like this have to happen?” I may not uncover the “why” but putting it in God’s hands can bring me peace.

For journaling resources and assistance, I recommend Refresh with Dawn Herring: For a Fresh Perspective in All of Life’s Dimensions.

Do you journal? What benefits has it given you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: http://www.WomenMakingStrides.com/ Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WomenMakingStrides1
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13 Responses to Benefiting From a Journal

  1. Cynthia says:

    I don’t journal much, but I never thought of it in the ways you have presented. It sounds very helpful to sort things out, which for me get all muddled and end up being damaging to myself (or others). I’m particularly interested in what you call self-guided, answering a question. But for me it would be difficult to come up with the question in the first place. This year I started a gratitude journal. I think I will amend it to include other journaling and see how it goes.

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    • Susan Ekins says:

      Cynthia, sometimes I journal about situations I’d like to resolve. I ask myself a question (e.g. How do I feel about this situation?) and get it on paper. I try to end on a positive note, maybe a baby step to take, or one thing I am grateful for, or a short prayer. Another place for ideas is other people’s blog posts. This one has a good exercise: http://www.bubblews.com/news/2179775-dare-to-doubt-your-doubts . I’ve done steps 1 to 4 and will do the next steps soon.
      Your gratitude journal is an excellent idea! If you keep it separate from your “regular” journal, you can go to it when you need cheering up or reminders of what’s good in your life. That’s awesome that you’re keeping a gratitude journal. I wish you well.

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  2. Sue Shanahan says:

    This post is timely for me. As I read it I am avoiding writing in my journal. I don’t know why that is. The insight and guidance I get from what I could only call my “higher self” is so beneficial. Time to signoff and get my journal out. 🙂

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  3. Enjoyed this blog post! I’ve kept a “journal” (definitely not every day, though) since age 13. I’ve written in it mostly when I’m confused or depressed, so anyone reading it might get the impression I was always that way. Since I’ve grown older (now in my ’70s), I only write in it a few times a year, just to keep track of what I’ve been doing or want to do. It’s a great vehicle for self-discovery and self-affirmation.

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  4. I use my journal for nearly everything–but especially my writing ideas. A journal is the one place you can write and know it is for your eyes only! Sometimes, that in itself is a comfort!

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  5. Pingback: Benefiting From a Journal | DreamWriter Forte

  6. Kerwyn Hodge says:

    I don’t journal (although I do take notes about almost all events I attend – I know, its not the same), but have in the past. So I can relate to the benefits you mention, Susan. Sometimes I treat my blog posts and drafts as a form of journaling. However, this posts definitely motivates me to write more consistently, just for the benefits it brings ME and not necessarily to share with the world. Thanks! 🙂

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  7. Kelly says:

    Intriguing post! I don’t journal but have been exploring the possibility. My issue is that I write all day long and often feel a need for a break from writing — and yet, I love the possibility of journaling being like a prayer. If nothing else, you’ve given me lots to think about! Thanks.

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  8. ljandrie57 says:

    Sometimes, like right now, I find that writing a post is as close as I can get to journaling. I truly believe in its helpfulness, just right at the moment, I need to keep free thoughts at bay for a few days. So glad you wrote this. Maybe you will help me get back on track with actually letting myself free-thought journal.

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  9. Thanks Susan. I journal at the very beginning of my day, but it is just very, very rough impressions of my devotional reading for the day and a list of things to do. The weather. Etc.

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