The Art of Journaling

To write or not to write… or draw, collage, paint, doodle, dot point or photograph. 

Over the years of being mentored I’ve always been asked if I keep a journal. And now, I ask the same question of my clients.
Do you keep a journal?
Responses range from; “Nah”, “Never”, “Did years ago”, “Started lots but…”, through to “Absolutely love it and never miss a day”. So, for lovers and dodgers alike read on to find out how this time honoured technique can be of benefit to you and explore some of the blockers that may hinder you.

Social Media -Tells our Story

I’ve noticed with the onset of social media people love to write, video, photograph and record with fabulous flair their everyday life moments. From the sublime to the ridiculous, banal to brilliant, people from all corners of the world are recording their activities for posterity and whoever wants to click ‘like’ or ‘love’.

So, when I ask clients, if they journal, perhaps now I need to ask a more relevant question: Do you consistently post on; FB, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat or any other platform I have not yet encountered (cause I’m not in the right age bracket)?

I am not trying to lower the tone of journaling here at all by linking it to our social media interactions. But social media reveals more of us are keeping written, oral, visual and creative records of daily life, including interests, ideas, questions and issues. With this activity in mind, the step towards journaling can be a smaller one than many of us imagine.

Perhaps we need to consider how to utilise the skills we apply to social media to the ancient and reflective art of journaling.

The ‘Big, Blank, White’ Fear

I remember a conversation some years ago with a friend of mine who is a brilliant landscape artist about what happened for him whenever he started a new work. He spoke of feeling daunted at first by the large, blank, white canvas in front of him, never quite sure if he would yet again be able to capture the beauty of the New Zealand landscapes he delighted in.

I marvelled that with his amazing body of work he still felt the same when standing in front of the next big blank canvas.

Journaling can often be stalled by the ‘blank white page’ moments of uncertainty; what to write, will it work for me, why bother, who will read it and what will they make of all the junk in my mind?

Perhaps we need to approach journaling with a bit more curiosity and playfulness. This will give us the room we need to mentally switch on the light and find out what we have hidden in the recesses of our minds.

Not sure you want to find what’s lurking there?

You may surprise yourself in your discoveries and yes, if you are willing to explore the questions, contradictions and patterns of your life, you will come across new things to appreciate and challenge within yourself. That is one of the amazing things about journaling; making it worth the time and consistent effort it takes beyond the first few pages. Keep turning the pages of a journal to write in a regular sustainable rhythm until it becomes part of the expressive and explorative fabric underpinning your life. Keep writing until you break through your own masks, walls, indifference, fear and finally find you. I don’t want to sound like a ‘shampoo advert’ here but ‘You are worth it!’

It all sounds mystical and mysterious, but it’s really not at all. It is a simple reflective repetitive tool of trade for any of us who desire to learn to listen well to ourselves, each other and to God.

The wonderful thing about journaling is that it is private, personal and has no limits to creative capacity. No one can click like or love, no fear need hold you back. You can’t fail at this!

As part of a therapy process it is an invaluable mirror for a client to reflect on sessions, skills and next steps.

But for anyone who wants to pivot on the growing edge of life becoming more compassionate, confident and courageous, then journaling is a no brainer. Build the habit into your life, but don’t become ‘religious’ about it. Keep it fresh, playful, honest and be curious about who you are, what questions are forming, what challenges you face, what hopes, dreams and darn good ideas are floating loose in that ‘fearfully and wonderfully designed’ brain of yours.

Go on, give it a go.

Contact us at C-Change and I’ll email a helpful handout of ideas, questions and suggestions to get you going and keep you going on the adventure of journaling. If you have any suggestions, please share them with us so we can pass them on.