Journaling is a record of a life lived and is a tool for observing both your inner and outer world. Good writing, in part, includes our ability to observe, to really see and understand, from multiple perspectives, the world around us and within us.
I have been journaling, on and off, since I was a young girl. I never thought of myself as a writer when I was journaling even though I filled thousands of blank pages with words, ideas and stories.
I am not exactly sure when I started thinking of myself as a “writer” but it had something to do with transitioning from writing in the privacy of my journal to writing for the public through articles, blog posts, newsletters, workbooks, training manuals, personal essays, and e-books.
In others words, journaling helped me discover and then claim my identity as a writer.
Journaling can also help us become better writers, here’s how…
1. Writer’s write – presumably, any activity we do regularly we get better at. If you want to be a better piano player, than you have to practice playing the piano. Journaling is a form of writing where you can practice the writer’s craft, without having to produce a finished product. It frees you up to explore, discover, grow and play on the page. Journaling supports you to be a writer who writes, even on days when you might not have much to say.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Stephen King
2. Find your authentic writer’s voice – by nature, journals are a place to tell the truth of our lives in our own words, in our own unique voice. We can also let it rip in the pages of our journal –there are no rules, anything we write is right. This naturally helps us connect with our most authentic voice, we get to know who we are when we are writing – we get to know what we have to say and how we want to say it. We are also writing without expectations or pressure, this relaxed state can support the emergence of our authentic voice as writers.
“When we as writers talk about finding our voices, we mean: What do I sound like when there is nothing and no one else speaking? What do I have to say once the distractions of my life are stilled?” Larraine Herring
3. Create a treasure chest of ideas – I often mine my journals for ideas to inform other writing projects. For example, I am currently writing a memoir entitled Umbilical Cord: An Adoptee’s Journey from Loss to Love and lots of the material for this project is being pulled from the pages of my journals: dialogue between myself and my birth mother during our first phone conversation, the details of our first meeting, how I felt the day I got married when both my mothers’ walked me down the aisle (a grass pathway and wooden stairs to the beach at our home) – all of these moments lived, then lived again in the pages of my journal, and now being reworked within my memoir manuscript in progress. I don’t always know where this writing is going but when I get lost I simply turn back to my journal and explore where I should go next.
“There is a Spanish proverb which says: there is no road, we make the road as we walk. I would say the same thing about journal writing: we make the path as we write.” Christina Baldwin
4. Awakened living, enlivened writing – journaling includes a conversation with our self in the world. Each time we put our ideas, thoughts and feelings down on the page we create openings, insights, new ideas, affirmation and acknowledgement of this life we are living. We also validate the important role of writing in our lives, through the act of writing itself. Regular journaling is a pathway to both awakened living and enlivened writing.
“Writing asks us to settle into ourselves and be awake.” Natalie Goldberg
Write. Discover. Grow. There are many ways that journaling can support us to become better writers. How can journaling support you to be the best writer you can be?
Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC, founder of Creative Wellness, regularly teaches, writes and speaks about the healing and transformational power of expressive writing. She offers a free e-book on Writing for Wellness at her website http://creativewellnessworks.com. She is the author of Life Source Writing™: A Reflective Journaling Practice for Self-Discovery, Self-Care, Wellness and Creativity.