For me there is something both powerful and wonderful about regularly and consistently putting your thoughts down on paper, rather than having them interminably rattling around inside your head.
I’m fairly, new to journaling, but I have been keeping a daily journal since December 2017 as I a result of starting with a weekly writing group. And, because I have been so very pleasantly surprised by the benefits I’m perceiving, from the process of writing daily I decided to share my thoughts here.
So, at different times my journals are:
A useful resource of ideas for future posts and articles. This gives me a sense of building something of value.
A place to dump worries, concerns and anxieties until I can review them properly.
A great place to play about with ideas and different perspectives.
A place to reflect on the day’s experiences. The highs and the lows.
A way to look back and see how far I have travelled.
A place to order my thoughts, work things through and note down any plans.
A safe place to explore, rant, swear and fully express myself.
A wonderful place to store the things that just make me laugh.
A place to say thank you and express gratitude
Over the twelve months I’ve developed my own habits around keeping a journal.
I like to write by hand and it seems that there are some real benefits to writing this way, as outlined in Nancy Olson’s article:
Three ways that handwriting with a pen positively affects your brain.
There is for me a flow to writing by hand and seeing my words emerge from the tip of my pen. Physically creating your words on your page. There is something meditative about this process which I’m sure is making a positive contribution to my well-being and health.
I also prefer to write within the confines of a hardback notebook, A4 size with unlined paper. Writing in between lines irritates me and somehow gets in the way of my flow as far as I am concerned. I like a blank page upon which I can put whatever I like. I don’t do lines, this might have something to do with school.
Additionally, late in the evening works best for me, I know others who write first thing in the morning. But I don’t think it matters when, so long as the timing you choose supports your writing.
Neither am I too prescriptive about what I write. In the early days I chose not to put myself under too much pressure to write in a certain way or about a certain topic. I was more interested in establishing a regular pattern that allowed my brain the time and space it needed to create and dream. Journaling I find is a great technique for getting out of your own way.
And more professionally I find that I can use my journaling to:
· Reflect on current reading and embed the learning.
· Set down quotes that lift and inspire.
· Set down and explore ideas and future possibilities.
· Track my learning and development. As a career coach I encourage clients to do precisely this.
I’ve also made my journals as searchable as I can. Having them A4 size makes it easier for me to quickly scan the pages and find what I need. Especially if I have circled or highlighted topic headings. The pages in my books are numbered and I date each entry. Post it notes make brilliant bookmarks, especially as you can write on them to denote which topic the bookmark refers to.
One final thing if you can and want to write by hand find a comfortable, smooth pen that fits you. I personally love the Uniball as it seems to glide across the paper and makes the physical act of writing both easy and a pleasure. That’s my preference but find what works for you.
And remember your journal is for you, your thoughts, your dreams, your reflections. Don’t allow anyone else to invade it or influence you, unduly.
Until next time
Word count: 677, first published on my blog, Careerresilience