How Journal Writing Enriches Your Writing Life

January 23, 2012

07. Morning2300972XSmallTravelling alone to the other side of the world to visit a new country and experience a different culture is an ideal opportunity to dive deeply into journal writing.

This is especially the case if the primary focus of the trip is to go on a retreat which encourages inner reflection as a process of creative exchange with the outer environment.

Having recently returned from such an adventure with a journal packed to overflowing with fresh observations, realisations and ideas, I’m inspired to share this reminder of the immense value of journal writing.

Of course, you don’t need to go anywhere to experience the benefits of writing in a journal. You simply need to commit to a regular practice that is, in this case, for your eyes only.

Many people see blogging as a way of writing a journal online to share with others. It can indeed work well for that purpose and some writers have enjoyed real success with that approach.

Yet private journal writing is a different practice. It delivers rich rewards, some of which may well find their way out to the world, but usually these will show up in a new form or be the invisible inspiration behind a creative project.

Here are just three of the many ways that private journal writing will enrich your writing life:

1. Space is genuinely cleared in your mind and your heart for you to be fully present in the moment and creatively connected.

Daily life is a process of continual accumulation. Unless we engage in some form of regular releasing, thoughts and feelings eventually build up until we can’t think straight any more.

Writing your innermost ideas and emotions down shifts them out of your body and onto the page. This enhances your perspective and leaves you clear to live, create and write spontaneously from a deep and connected inner flow.

2. The channels are opened for your deepest thoughts, reflections, and insights to rise to the surface so you discover new layers of your creative self.

Writing in this way is a bit like having an in-depth conversation with yourself. In the knowledge that no one else will read your words, you are free to be completely open in a way that may not be possible in any other situation.

Writing evocatively about happenings, people, places and relationships, and perhaps even more importantly, your thoughts and feelings about all of the above, is immensely revealing and creatively liberating.

3. Private journal writing is quite simply enjoyable and valuable in a multitude of ways.

You may discover some gems of ideas and well-written sections that have flowed out of you effortlessly onto the page. Or you may uncover long-forgotten memories which transport you back in time to a situation that your current perspective can play with as material for future creative projects.

There are many possible outcomes of private journal writing. However, the most important point to appreciate is that the process itself is deeply rewarding, regardless of any future end result.

Finally, if you haven’t yet experienced this kind of private journal writing or haven’t written in a journal for a long time, here are a few practical suggestions:

  • Choose a journal to write in that feels right for you – large, small, spiral bound, pretty or practical – the choice is yours.
  • Writing by hand is usually preferable for this kind of writing although not an absolute requirement.
  • Some journal writing teachers specify a number of pages to aim for. In my view, it is more a question of listening within and writing until you feel done.
  • Regularity makes a difference, and although it is often specified that journal writing should be done first thing in the morning, my recommendation is to find a time and rhythm that suits you – then stay with it.
  • It is important that your journal is for your eyes only! The private nature of this kind of journal writing gives you the permission you need to write freely.

What are your experiences of private journal writing? Share your practical preferences and the benefits you find from this practice as a comment below.


© Julia McCutchen 2012. All Rights Reserved.

If you want to use this article in your ezine or on your website I’d be happy for you to do so as long as you use the complete article, including the copyright line, and include the following paragraph in its entirety:

Julia McCutchen is the founder & creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW). A former managing director & publisher, Julia is an intuitive writer’s coach, mentor and professional publishing consultant. She has over 20 years’ experience of publishing and a track record that includes UK no 1 and international bestsellers. Julia is the author of The Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Publication. Visit for a range of FREE articles, audios and videos for writers and download a FREE Special Report, Discover Your Authentic Voice – on the page and in the world at

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , — Julia @ 12:48 pm


  1. I totally agree. I’ve kept a journal most of my life, and after reading Julia Cameron’s book some years back, I write my morning pages practically every day.

    Comment by Perle — January 23, 2012

  2. I am right with you Perle. I started doing morning pages about 3 years ago, and now they are a regular part of my morning. I have discovered so much about myself and my creativity by writing thes pages. They are as important as meditating to me.

    Comment by Cindy — January 23, 2012

  3. Good for you Perle – it really does make a difference doesn’t it. There are phases when I don’t write so often, and sometimes I write at night instead of in the morning, but no matter, the value is in the regularity of doing according to how it feels for you at any given moment in time!

    Comment by julia — January 27, 2012

  4. Hi Cindy – yes, morning pages are very revealing and make a good partner to meditation. Lovely to know how many of us enjoy this practice 🙂

    Comment by julia — January 27, 2012

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