Category Archives: Motivation to Journal

Is Journaling Too Much For A Freelance Writer?

a guest post, by Lily Wilson
Girl Writing In Note BookA dear friend proposed an experiment: maintain a journal for one month and notice what changes in my life. I remember rolling my eyes. I reminded her why I had chosen to be a freelance writer: To be my own boss, to write on my own schedule, and besides who needs journaling when you write everyday anyway? But she insisted that journal-writing is something wholly different. In the end, I was intrigued to find out if I could do this, and whether it would affect my life in a positive way.

Where I Ended Up

Heal Thyself
I was going through a rough patch when I started this experiment and I suspect that was one of the reasons my friend wanted me to do this. Keeping a journal did not make my problems go away. But it did make me see my problems more clearly. I’ll admit, I didn’t write in the journal every day. Work and other issues kept me from that, however, going back to reading the previous entries became a habit. Reading what I’d written at that particular moment helped me digest it later. I realized what was troubling me and that helped me heal.

Know Better
When I began, I skipped details and important stuff, opting to write about the mundane and getting the chore done as quickly as I could. When I kept writing, however, these details started ending in the journal. Little things that bothered me and ruined my mood without warning became part of the entry, as I described my day. It helped me to get to know myself and I could better avoid the stuff that wasn’t good for me.

Bird’s Eye View
While writing what you feel in that particular moment, it also increases your chances of coming back to revisit that feeling. You take out time from a very busy life to slow down and just observe what you wrote. This makes you realize that other people were also involved in the situation, and that they may have a perspective different than yours. Pausing to consider someone else’s point of view is a lesson in patience and you end up broadening your vision. Next time you could very well decide to pause to consider how your actions are affecting others before you act on them.

Worth Living
If I ever felt that my life was not interesting enough, journaling has certainly changed my mind. When I read about my past, about things that I had forgotten about, it reminds me that I have been living a very interesting life. It could only get better, as I continue to move on, right? If you are down on yourself often, keeping a journal will help you realize things you once knew but have forgotten. I already had depth in my life; journaling just helped me find it again!

From Patient to Patience!
For as long as I can remember, I have been a hothead. Once my temper flares, there is nothing that can turn the dial back down. Reading about my reaction to a situation that had angered me in the past aids me to reflect upon it. By removing myself from the equation, I can compare what I should have done with what I did. A lifetime of being angry does not go away with one journal entry; I still get angry, but now it is manageable. Like I said, a journal is not a magic wand that you can wave around but it does help you see the way.

How You Can Start

I know maintaining a journal seems like a daunting task but if I can do it, you can too. Still undecided? Here are some ways that will help you get started:

  • Start with a playlist of songs. As you listen to them one by one, simply record how each made you feel or what they reminded you of.
  • Start by drawing self-portraits. Take pictures, draw, color, create as you go along.
  • Start with a list of your favorite quotes. Add to them daily or weekly. Include how they you make feel and why they are your favorites.
  • Start with the obvious. Simply stating the highlights of each day, where you live, what you like, can get you on the bandwagon.

Once you get into the habit of writing, you can move to deeper waters.

About the Author

Lily Wilson is a 34 year-old homestay freelance academic writer. Lily runs her personal blog AnAwfulLotofWriting and works as a contributing academic writer at

101 Reasons Book Image

What Starting a Website on Journaling Taught Me About Journaling

CreativeCommons by gnuckx

CreativeCommons by gnuckx

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, feed him for a lifetime.
(Have the guy start a fishing school and… well…!)

It’s been almost three years since I started Easy Journaling. And the reason I want to share about the lessons I’ve learned is because they’ve been surprising. In the beginning it was simply a blog where I reviewed the best iPhone journaling apps I could find. It quickly evolved to include all platforms, as well as the best methods for keeping a journal digitally. Modern Journaling was the first guide on keeping a journal digitally.  Later, 101 Reasons to Write a Journal and other books were added to help readers get the most out of their personal journal writing.

I had done most of the writing and tutorials, but what’s interesting is that nobody on the Easy Journaling team has learned more than I have. Without question, the best part of the entire EJ project has been the community that has evolved and the friendships that have been made. Both with journal-writers who have similar websites, as well as others who found the site by seeking the best journal app. I have taught everything I know on the subject, and yet the community has consistently given me the best tips and recommendations. The readers of EJ have also been generous whenever I made mistakes, and helped me fill in the gaps when my research was not complete.

As I look at how my personal journaling over these past three years, one thing is clear: my style has evolved. When I first started EJ, my journaling typically subsisted of short, occasional posts sent from my phone. Now, my journaling is a multi-faceted strategy including journal entries from my phone, computer, and recycled content I first create elsewhere on the web (social media, blog posts, emails…)

101 Reasons Book ImageAlso, reading old journal entries has become a streamlined process. Since I have used several different journal applications on a consistent basis (someone had to test them, right?) I now have content on a variety of platforms. Yes, I always make PDF backups, but there are a few features that I have really learned to enjoy from specific journaling services. Specifically, Penzu and Everyday Timeline have proved to be very benificial as they consistently email me old entries and content from my past. Every day when I open my email inbox I get a new mini-blast reminder of how my life was, anywhere from one to five years ago.

Everything I write is now more secure and always backed up. I never use journals without passwords, and I don’t rely on the developer to guard my data for life. PDF export has become my method of choice for safeguarding my journal, and I now have a journal vault with a half dozen PDFs containing the best parts of my life.

If I had to summarize my current journaling experience down to one word I would say “peace”. I am at peace with how much and how often I journal. I am at peace knowing that this side of the apocalypse, my journals are secure and backed up. I am at peace knowing I have helped many others achieve similar levels of peace.

I wish this kind of peace for everyone in their journaling practice. Nathan is a great guide, and I know he’d like you to check out Easy Journaling as well.


The Voice You Crave To Hear

life-becomes-easier-inspirationa-inspiring-short-quotes-sayings-when-learn-accept-apology-never-got-picture-wallpaperGandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s a beautiful reminder that an effective way to make the world better, is to behave like an example of what we expect, instead of only waiting for others to change. This quote (viewed from a completely new angle) made a huge impact on my journal-writing one night. Now I say, “You must write the voice you most crave to hear.”

I had worked a long day at the office, and I was infuriated with Amy, a coworker who always seems to be criticizing me, and not understanding my best intentions. I was tired of her arrogance, her lack of compassion. I began the journal entry with lots of terse, frustrating comments. And even though it felt somewhat satisfying to vent my anger, I realized that I could go on and on writing nasty things about Amy, without really making any difference in the situation … or, more importantly, for myself.

I realized that if I wanted a good night’s sleep, and return to work the next morning feeling refreshed, and authentically complete with the situation, that I would save a lot of time if I could just identify the words I wished Amy would have said. And from there, I wrote sort of an “unsent letter” from Amy to me. Here is an excerpt:

“Nathan, I’m really sorry about the way that I treat you. I don’t mean to be rude, and you know that I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to my job. I know this sounds crazy, but most of the time I’m talking with people, I feel as if they are just wasting my time. I have so little patience, even with myself, and this is probably an issue I’ll have to deal with at some point in my life. I don’t mean any disrespect to you personally. You have so many great ideas, and I know that you are very good in your work. But honestly, I struggle to find ways of complimenting people. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. When I pick out the flaws in what you say, even if they are only minor, it’s my only way of relating to you. I don’t expect you to like me for this. I’m sure we’ll never be great friends. Just please accept that I’m flawed, and I need tenderness but I’m simply incapable of asking for it.”

These are words that Amy would never say out loud. But having written them down, as if she were baring some innermost secret thoughts, without changing who she was, or re-writing her character, created a sense of relief for me. And the next day, though nothing changed between us, I sensed an unexpected compassion for Amy.

Give it a try sometime. If you find you have some unfinished business with someone, here are some guidelines for an exercise in “Writing The Voice You Crave To Hear” from them:

  1. Open your journal to a clean page. Write the date, and the person’s name.
  2. Be still and spend a quiet moment to mentally go back to a situation with that person which left you feeling sad, incomplete, angry, dismissed, or uneasy. Write down just a brief summary of the situation, and a few words that express those negative feelings.
  3. Now listen for any words that you wish that person could say to you. Imagine that they knew everything that you know: how their actions have impacted you, how you’re feeling. Write down what you’d love to hear from that person. An explanation? An apology? The exercise works best if you write it in their words, and from their perspective.
  4. Close with gratitude. Write them back a short note to thank them for sharing this secret.

If you find this useful, I’d love to hear how it has helped. In closing, I am reminded of a quote by Robert Brault: “Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology that you never got.”

Journal-To-The-Self Workshop

Journal to the SelfJust as there are a variety of writing styles (historical fiction, poetry, memoir, screenplay) there are also various techniques of journal-writing. Here are just a few:

gratitude practice can help you focus on the things that fuel you, and to remember that the small gifts in life are often the most precious.  Lisa Ryan is one expert in this technique who recently shared some tips for this style of journaling on JournalTalk.

Creating Lists of 100 can be a very fun (and informative!) method to organize and categorize your thoughts. You might surprise yourself what you learn from naming 100 items on a given topic.

The Unsent Letter is one of the most powerful healing tools for situations where you feel stuck, anxious, unheard, or where there is a need for forgiveness or grieving.  I have a very special JournalTalk episode planned with an example of the power of the Unsent Letter coming soon!

All of these techniques, and over a dozen more, will be the subject of my next journaling workshop, called Journal To The Self.  We’ll be taking time to explore each technique in detail, and learn new ways of connecting with ourselves. While it is intended for beginning journal-writers, it has also provided tools for those more experienced to deepen their journaling practice.

This workshop is based on the book with the same title, by Kathleen Adams. The tuition for this workshop ($120.00 US) includes the cost of a helpful workbook that is designed to complement the assignments.  We meet for 90 minutes per week, by telephone conference, each Sunday starting April 6th, with the exception of Easter and Mother’s Day.

My Three Hot Buttons: Passion, Clarity & Purpose

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Not too long ago I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. I came to a point in my life, after I had been journaling for twenty-eight years. I had boxes and boxes of journals, pages filled with the demons I’d wrestled with, obstacles I’d overcome and challenges through which I’d sorted. Journaling had been my best friend and ally. I knew that this material was worth something, that it could somehow make a difference in the world, but I just didn’t know how or what that would look like.

I thought about turning my entries into a screenplay for a film. I imagined people going to the movies, buying popcorn and watching my life story for a few hours, but when I visualized that, I was left feeling simply uninspired. After more wondering, visualizing and pondering, I decided I needed to write a book. But everything I came up with was just flat.

None of these ideas moved me, and I was frustrated until a light bulb went off during Landmark Education’s Wisdom Course. I realized: What I really want is to share my passion for journaling with other people. And the idea of an e-course struck me.

Through journaling, I’ve been able to grow myself personally and professionally. But instead of writing a book about me, I wanted to show people how to get something for themselves through the power of journaling.

The Passion, Clarity & Purpose ecourse was born with the intention of sharing the love I have for this type of writing. Journaling is an amazing tool for getting clear, making decisions and leading a love-filled life. This course teaches people how they can write to enhance their lives.

Passion: Lighting the fire of your creativity and imagination! Over the six-week course, we’ll explore ways to re-kindle our love for the things that mean the most in our lives – and you may be surprised by what comes out! Weekly writing assignments will have you look at what gets you going, and owning your enthusiasm.

Clarity: Getting laser-like focus on who you are, and where you’re going. With an emphasis on getting “real” with ourselves, we practice speaking to ourselves with compassion and kindness, without pretense or excuses. Any issue or area of life that feels murky can be cleared up with the exercises we do in the course, and you’ll be left with the ability to make choices in your life that you can stand by because you know what you need and want.

Purpose: Connecting with our mission and meaning in life. Ultimately, we’ll use journaling to learn about ourselves and what we are truly meant to be doing. In a practice of compassionate honesty, we’ll use journaling to find our truth. We participate in weekly conference calls (a sort of Learning Laboratory) to stimulate you taking inventory of your life, and choosing what’s right for you.

The investment for this course is $197, and the first ten people to sign up will receive a surprise bonus upon their registration.  Register today.

Morning Pages: The Habit of Journaling

Guest Post by Mari L. McCarthy

Mari is the first person I teamed up with when I “came public” about my desire to help people develop journal-writing skills in a meaningful way.  She has become a good friend and mentor, and I’m pleased to share with you a guest post from her describing what she’s been up to lately.  I have taken this course, and fully endorse it. Mari’s brilliant style of journal coaching is top-notch.

The Habit of Journaling

cover-ebookHow good are you at starting something new? Is it easy to begin a diet, an exercise regimen, a meditation routine? For most of us, starting any kind of new practice that promises to improve our health and happiness is extremely challenging. We want to improve, but we’re reluctant to change.

You decide, for example, that you’ll no longer waste your evenings in front of the television. You’re going to start reading books instead. You spend one or two quiet nights with a great book; but then you remember that your favorite show is on and decide to catch it one more time.

The next evening there’s a special you want to see and the next you waste on mindless sitcoms because you’re mad at your boyfriend and before you know it, you haven’t made a change at all.

It’s one thing to do an activity now and then and it’s something totally different to make it a part of your everyday life. Often we carefully follow a new routine for several days, only to blow it and go back to square one. Unless we make the new habit as common as getting dressed in the morning, as every day as eating lunch, we are not likely to reap the full benefits.

At CreateWriteNow, we are dedicated to the everyday practice of journal writing, as a lifestyle that fosters personal improvement on nearly every level. While we discuss and use many different kinds of journaling, the Morning Pages, originally introduced by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, is one of the easiest ways to get started with a solid journal writing habit.

It’s easy, but it’s still challenging because you do have to take the initiative and begin. So we’ve developed a new course from CreateWriteNow called 12 Days of Morning Pages. You can access the course via email or in ebook format. Its tips and exercises are designed to be an easy and fun way to slide into your daily Morning Pages routine. With the help of the materials, you’ll find you have developed a powerfully healthy habit almost without trying!

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MariJJDuoAvatarsmallMari L. McCarthy (also known as the Oprah of Journaling) is The Journaling Therapy Specialist, founder of Create Write Now, the Personal Growth Journaling Place. Mari offers counseling and encouragement to journal writers through her many online journaling resources, as well as private consultations. Mari’s teachings and workbooks center around journaling for self-discovery, self-growth, and self-healing. She has published nearly 20 journaling guides, exploring such topics as money, jobs, health, bereavement, personal organization, and more. Look for her 27 Days of Journaling to Health and Happiness, a course that begins this September 1st.

Mari McCarthy featured on “Chaos Into Creativity” website

Carrie Leigh Sandoval’s website has a new look and feel.  Her motto “Chaos Into Creativity” is a superb way to describe a powerful benefit of journaling.  Recently, Mari McCarthy made a guest post, to share about the “Twelve Days of Morning Pages” program:

Whether or not you’re a “morning person,” you probably agree that those first few moments after you wake up are a different kind of consciousness. You might feel a little foggy-headed, for instance, half still in dreamland, if you’re the type that operates best in the latter part of the day. If you’re an “A” type of personality, you may feel most sharp in the early morning.

Either way, it’s a special time. Maybe you can find new discoveries in your semi-dreaming awareness; or those of you who wake up raring to go probably benefit from the thoughts and plans that come to you first thing in the morning. So this post is a suggestion to use those early moments for something truly transformative.

Read On…

Journaling Tips for Travelers

Travel Journaling: Enhance The Quality of Vacations

Going on vacation?  People have asked me if I use my vacation time to take a break from my normal journaling routine.  My answer: Absolutely not!  In fact, the very act of taking time off for travel, recreation, and rejuvenation is the BEST time for some of my most profound and memorable journaling.  If I can’t make the time for self-reflection and appreciation of life while I’m on vacation, then when will I ever?

Whether it is a weekend getaway, a short business trip, a visit to a foreign country, or a full-scale family vacation, journaling can help make the time even more valuable.  People may not realize what a great impact can be made by writing just a brief summary of each day while on any trip.  Here are just a few of the benefits.  For more in-depth tips, see below to get a free e-brochure with a list of eleven practical and simple things you can do to include your journal in your time away from home.

1.  Make richer and longer-lasting memories.  Putting your thoughts and experiences into words will certainly help you categorize and retain the memories.  Perhaps it’s because we reinforce our learning when we engage another of our senses.  But more importantly, summarizing each day’s events in your journal, affords you opportunity to accompany the events of your journey with additional layers of feelings and reflection, which make the memories ever more meaningful.

2.  Appreciate the finer details of the vacation.  Journaling is mostly about noticing.  Once you are in the mindset of taking notice of the simple things during your travels, you will become more aware of the sweet, often overlooked, details that add color and interest to any adventure.

3.  Relive the vacation again and again.  Coming back to re-read your travel journals will revive delightful memories and insights.  While photos capture scenery and serve as great reminders, journaling adds context and texture to those images.  Over the years, my best writings have come from revisiting and rewriting some of the private observations I’ve made while travelling.

You might also be interested in hearing other journaling experts discuss the finer points of traveling with a journal: Lavinia Spalding, and coming soon, Leon Logothetis.

For a free e-brochure, “Tips for Travel Journaling”, simply post a comment below with “Send me your Travel Journaling Tips” or something similar, and I will send it to you.


gorgeous view with Anne Frank quote

  Location: Knapps Castle, Santa Barbara, CA

I’ve written for so long, during the most ecstatic highs and the most depressing lows.  My journal has been a best friend and a coach to me through all of it.  I just can’t imagine NOT writing, and I don’t think I’ll ever quit.  I guess I will Write4Life.

Congratulations, Juan Minchala!

Sixty Consecutive Days!

Juan MinchalaCongratulations, Juan, on making two consecutive 30-day challenges in daily journaling!  Juan is a participant in our Passion, Clarity & Purpose Journaling e-Course.  He has shared on our weekly conference calls numerous times about breakthroughs he has made with his family relationships, personal goals, self-understanding, and self-discovery.  One of these conversations is recorded in Episode #1 of JournalTalk, our bi-weekly podcast.

Juan says: “The best part about journaling is that I’ve gained a new ability to express myself into words, both for my own clarity of mind, as well as with the world around me.  Journaling has dramatically improved the quality of my life, and I’m grateful for the course and all the supportive people I’ve met through it.”  Juan is an aspiring musician, and an inspiration to many friends and family members.

Best wishes for another amazing sixty days, Juan!