“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.