New Pathways

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for Women

Journal Writing for the Non-Writer

journal writing

Are you a reluctant writer?  Does the idea of journal writing intrigue, and repel you at the same time?  You’re not alone.  So many women are intimidated by the idea of using a journal to help them gain clarity in their lives, but don’t let fear keep you from this important tool!

Often the subject of journal writing conjures up images of teenage diaries with heart shaped locks to guard adolescent secrets.  Adult journal writing can be a very different endeavor.  It doesn’t even require a journal – any writing paper will do.  It is possible to use a computer, but studies show that the simple act of writing down your thoughts is therapeutic and helpful in gaining insight.  In fact, it can be much less intimidating to write on a paper pad or  in a spiral notebook than using a beautiful, expensive journal that you are afraid to “mess up”.

So, let’s talk about “messy writing”.  This is the kind of writing that you have been discouraged to do in your classroom days.  Messy writing does not require punctuation, capital letters or correct spelling.  The only requirement is that you get your thoughts on paper as rapidly as possible.  You don’t have to worry if it makes sense, has topic sentences or complete paragraphs, or if anyone else can read your handwriting.  This is writing for your eyes only.

When is the best time to write?  Ideally, it is best to take a few minutes in the morning – as close to waking up as you can.  Your mind is more open and still connected to your dream, restful state.  However, if that’s impossible, find the time of day that works best for you and set aside a few minutes to write. Ideally, you should aim for fifteen minutes or three pages a day.

What to write about?  You can simply write about whatever is in your head and on your mind.  Just start writing and see where it takes you.  Remember, it does not have to follow writing rules.  You can just write stream of consciousness about your thoughts and see where it goes.  Is nothing coming to mind?  Try asking yourself a question at the top of the page?  Why am I upset?  What should I do about….?  What do I really need right now?  If it’s hard to answer your own question, pretend you are answering a friend and give yourself advice about a question you have in your life.

What to do with your writing?  If it’s helpful to you, you can keep the writing and look over it once in awhile to check for themes or big questions that you are struggling with in your life. If you’re a private person, or the messiness of the writing bothers you (hello, me!), you can tear up the paper as soon as you finish writing for the day.  It’s not the saving of the writing that creates the change, it’s the actual act of writing down your thoughts.

So, have I convinced you that journal writing is worth a try?  Come on, join me in my messy, imperfect, life changing writing practice.  Grab a piece of paper and something to write with and commit to a few minutes a day…it will change your life.

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