Today I laid out on my raft and someone had their stereo on really loud and it was FANTASTIC! We ate at the Revolving Restaurant. We threw the frisbee on the beach tonight. Tomorrow, we leave.
This is a passage from a journal I kept when I was sixteen years old. This entry was written while I was on a summer vacation with my family. Those simple written words are priceless to me. Most likely, I would not be able to recall the events of my younger years so clearly without the help of my journals. I enjoy reading them because it is fun to be reminded of thoughts, feelings and experiences of years gone by. I also like to see how my thoughts, my handwriting and my writing skills have evolved over the years.
Keeping a journal is a simple thing to do. Anyone can do it. Maybe you are sitting there thinking that you do not like to write so you would never choose to keep a journal. Well, guess what? Writing daily in a journal can become one of your favorite past times once you discover how rewarding and easy it can be.
A journal is uniquely yours. No one can create a journal for you and it is something that no one else has to know about. There are many benefits that come from keeping a daily journal. It can serve as a lifelong record of the events in your life or help you improve your writing and your critical thinking skills. Daily writing can also be therapeutic while connecting you more strongly with your ability to be creative.
Julia Cameron discusses how daily writing can lead to a more creative life in her book The Artist’s Way. She recommends writing three pages of freewriting every
day. Freewriting is simply writing down the exact thoughts you are having without censorship. If the only thing you can think of to write is “I can’t think of anything to write” then you would write that over and over until some other thoughts or feelings begin to form within your mind. The purpose of freewriting daily is to purge unproductive thoughts out of your mind each day. Ms. Cameron refers to the process as “Brain Drain.” Our daily routines often absorb all of our time and energy. This leaves little room for creativity. As some of the issues of life are worked through on paper, we are in a better position to be in touch with the creative part which is often buried by the busyness of life.
The process of freewriting daily also teaches you to ignore your censor. Censor is that voice that beats you down and makes you feel like you are not capable of doing what you are trying to do. The goal is to continue writing non stop even though that voice in your head may be trying to fill your mind with negative thoughts about yourself and what you are writing. As you learn to overpower this negative voice that tries to hold you back while you are writing, you will learn to overcome this little negative voice in other aspects of your life as well. During the process, you become more open to your creative self. If you already consider yourself to be creative, the daily freewriting will enhance your creativity even more.
I go through times in my life when I do not write every day. Whenever I pick up that pen and paper up and start up my daily writing again, it never fails that within a week or two of starting the writing process, I have a strong urge to sit down and play my very neglected piano. Music is a wonderful way to express creativity! I also feel more energized and I find myself thinking more productively. I have learned that freewriting on a daily basis does have a magical ability to connect me with my creativity.
So, what is the best way to get started? Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, suggests that you buy a fast writing pen because our thoughts are usually faster than the hand. It takes longer to write with a pencil than it does with a good pen armed with a slick tip. After you find the perfect pen for you, Ms Goldberg also suggests that you pick out a journal that suits your personality. There are all kinds of different options for journals. My preference is the standard composition book because it is easy to write on the front and back of each page. Also, they are very economical and easy to store. Once you start writing, do not worry about staying in the lines and following the margins. Also, this is a time when spelling, punctuation and sentence structure simply do not matter. No one is going to read your private journal. Many of your sentences may only be fragments. This is perfectly acceptable. Actually it is good because this approach allows you to get more thoughts out on the paper.
If you set a standard time to write in your journal, you are more likely to establish writing as a habit in your life. I like to write in my journal right after I wake up each morning. It only takes me twenty minutes to write three full pages. If morning is not a good time for you, choose a time that works best for you. Just make sure that you have no interruptions so your thoughts can flow freely onto the paper. It is best to keep your journal private. This gives you more freedom to write the things that you really want to write without the fear of being judged or ridiculed.
Even if you have no desire to enhance your creativity, you may want to consider writing in a journal to record the events of your life. As I mentioned before, I love to read my old journals when the need for nostalgia hits me. It is amazing how much of our past we forget as we get older. Your daily journals are something that will connect you with a part of you that you may have forgotten even existed. Even though I have no desire to relive the years of my past, I am grateful that I have journal entries which connect me with that young lady who lived years ago. I’m am always a little sad when I read the last entry of a journal and I wish that I had kept on writing. It is so interesting to go back and read words that you wrote in your younger years. Sometimes it is funny. Sometimes it is sad. No matter what, the words you write now can become priceless keepsakes in the years to follow.
I challenge you to experiment with freewriting in a journal. Try this for three weeks and see if you can tell a difference in your life. It only takes three weeks to form a habit, so
if journal writing is something that works for you, it is likely that after three weeks, you will be hooked. Journal writing can serve as powerful tool to improve your life. There
is so much to be gained from the process for such minimal effort. Enhance creativity, improve writing skills, improve critical thinking skills and create a permanent record of
your life in a way that no one else can. There is no risk involved and you have so much to gain. If nothing else, years later, when you happen to stumble on what you have written, you will be glad that you did. Also, I promise you that you will wish that you had written even more.
(c) 2005 Beverly Keaton Smith
Beverly Keaton Smith, CPCC owns and operates Embrace Your Gifts and Soar! She is a certified life coach who offers individual life coaching, group coaching, workshops and retreats to women who are ready to discover and embrace their unique gifts so they can live more athentically and joyfully. She is also co-author of The Book of Druthers. To learn more, see http://www.embraceyourgifts.com