I cannot overestimate the importance of journal writing for writers. Many of my students and clients think they have to know what they want to say before they write. I rarely know. I have inklings, but often I have no clue what needs to come forward until I make my way to the page. I tell my students and clients to simply show up, give themselves fifteen minutes. Setting a timer helps. It takes the pressure off. Just say to yourself, “I’m going to write for fifteen minutes and it doesn’t matter what I say. When the bell rings I’m done.” Fifteen minutes isn’t a lot of time, yet you might be surprised how much you can accomplish.
My favorite time to write in my journal is first thing in the morning, which I’ve done on and off for thirty years. Long before Julia Cameron published The Artist’s Way, I wrote morning pages, tapping early morning consciousness—and dreams.
Recently I’ve fallen into the bad habit of checking emails when I awaken. This is not a self-honoring way to start the day. It makes no sense putting others’ needs before one’s own, or looking for connections with the outside world before making inner ones. My day is always better when I check in with myself first. Writing in my journal allows me to converse with the one person that’s been with me my whole life and will stay with me until the end—me! Journal writing provides precious time to nurture my relationship with myself. And since I believe divinity resides in us all, it’s also a way to connect with Spirit, Source, God—what you call it doesn’t matter; knowing it’s there and accessing its wisdom does. This, of course, is healing and empowering for non-writers too!
I am the only person I disappoint when I don’t write in my journal. It may seem easier to be accountable to others. Some days everything and everyone seem more important. But they are not. And things are rarely as they seem. Nothing visible happens when I don’t show up for my morning writing ritual. Nobody else cares. But not showing up for myself and for my writing gnaws me. It’s not writing that’s hard, but not writing. Though I love readers, I write first and foremost for myself. The process helps me navigate, understand, and celebrate life.
No matter what project I’m working on, journal writing is home base, the safe haven I return to for sustenance, rest, and whatever else I need. It keeps me honest, centered, grounded, and informed. It presents me with my own internal state of the union address. I see what’s really going on when I write. I listen and receive—not only creative projects, like my book proposal, but my life, which is the ultimate creative project.
A lot gets born in my journal: book chapters, stories, poems, proposals, blog posts—but the important thing is that I approach my journal expecting nothing. I enter that sacred space to experience the sheer pleasure and relief writing brings. The old saying is true: writing is its own reward.
This post started as a seed in my journal that needed to sprout, a message I needed to hear. I thought others might like to hear it too. If this is the case, if the post resonates with you, or if you have questions, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
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