I’ve written about the healing power of writing, but haven’t mentioned it in the same sentence with journaling. Any type of writing will help, bullet points, brainstorming, I most often start with freewriting as that is what works best for me.
Freewriting is the act of writing without stopping. Many people begin with a set time, like 5 minutes, and they’ll write whatever comes to mind. If you’re unpracticed in journaling or freewriting, this might work if it seems starting might seem overwhelming.
Some people see journals as a way of recording the day’s events, certain thoughts or feelings, or even keeping track of accomplishments and to-do lists. It can be all or any of these things.
It used to be I’d read Sylvia Plath’s journals or Anais Nin’s diary excerpts and be intimidated – how did they create such lovely and thoughtful prose in their journals when what I scribble appears more like word vomit, thoughts and emotions all over the place in no particular order? and there certainly isn’t much poetry within it!
But then a friend pointed out a few things. First: some people keep a writer’s journal (as opposed to or in addition to a personal journal). This may be what I’ve been exposed to within the realm of famous author’s private thoughts. Second: These published journals have probably been edited, redacted, and only the best parts saw the light of day.
The Diary of Anne Frank, most people are unaware, was edited. Large parts of the original text were blacked out by her father who thought some entries to be inappropriate.
Hey – all the best journals have inappropriate thoughts! That’s why they are there in the secrecy of our journals.
But journals serve a number important purposes: Journal writing relieves us of our anxiety by releasing any thoughts and feelings that have been unexpressed or need to be re-expressed. Writing things down is a way to get them out of us, to say them aloud, and begins a process of working out the challenges we face.
Writing regularly helps with mental well-being, feeling more positive and hopeful. Journaling can help us heal.
Some writers do morning pages. Some people journal nightly. The best time is the time that suits you.
The fine art of journaling lies in putting the pen to the paper and doing what feels best for you without worrying what others will think. It is just for you. And we all need that – to do things for ourselves.