Last week I shared how to start a journal practice and received many responses from individuals who would like to start a journal or keep a journal but do not do so consistently. Today I wanted to provide eight suggestions for new journal writers.
These suggestions are truly suggestions but can provide a framework and foundation for keeping a journal. At the core of keeping a journal, remember that there is no right or wrong and it needs to be personalized for the writer. You aren’t graded on your journal.
Eight Suggestions for New Journal Writers
1. Protect Your Privacy
A friend shared that she kept a journal when she was young but stopped once her mother began reading it. Planning where you are going to store your journal is something you need to consider in the beginning. Think about storing it in a place where the temptation for others to read is diminished. Reserve the first page of any new journal for your name, phone number or email, along with a notice: This is my personal journal. Please do not read without my permission. If none of that would stop whoever might read your journal, get a shredder or burn what you have written. Find a creative way to protect your privacy, such as a new gmail or yahoo account, password protected, from which to write to yourself at that address. Or keep your journal on a flashdrive. Make privacy and intentional act.
2. Start with an entrance meditation
Nearly every journal technique benefits from a few minutes of focused quieting. Use visualization, soft music, candles, making a cup of tea or coffee, deep breathing, stretches or whatever works for you.
3. Date every entry
If you establish only one habit in your journal, let it be this one! Dating every entry allows you to chronologically reconstruct your journal by date. It allows you to look back to see what you were thinking or doing at a specific time. When I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, my journal allowed me to see that I had been dealing with fatigue for much longer than I was remembering. Dating every entry also allows you to hear the silence between your entries.
4. Keep (and re-read) what you write
Often the writes that feel like throw aways contain seeds for future insight. Keep it, reread it later, and surprise yourself with how much you knew that you didn’t know you knew!
5. Write quickly
You can outsmart “journal block” by writing so fast that the Internal critic and internal censor can’t keep up. Keep your pen (or fingers) moving!
6. Start writing, keep writing
Start with the present moment. (“What’s going on now?”) or start with a feeling (“I’m so mad I could explode!”) Start with a story (“Today the weirdest thing happened….”) Once you’ve started , don’t go back to edit or rewrite. And don’t think too much. Let it flow.
7. Tell yourself the truth
Your own truth is not your enemy. Don’t try to talk yourself out of knowing what you know or feeling what you feel. Give yourself permission to tell the truth. Also give yourself permission to pace yourself. If the truth seems too bright, then slow it down.
8. Write naturally
If there is one rule of true journal writing, it is that there are simply no rules! Do what works. Make lists or write freely. Don’t worry about what you’re not doing. Give yourself permission. Let yourself enjoy the process.
Source: The Center for Journal Therapy www.journaltherapy.com
What suggestions will you utilize?