Tag Archives: writing

Journaling is a Process, not a Product

Journaling TipsWhen I first started journaling, I remember challenging myself to fill up a notebook as quickly as I could. I numbered each journal with consecutive digits; and just like graduating to the next grade-level in school, I felt a secret pride that I had made it to the next number!

I remember making it my goal to write for a whole year, 365 days consecutive, without skipping a single day (that was 1989, and I accomplished that goal)!

Sometimes little games like this help keep me journaling during a dry spell. After all, a little competition (even with one’s self) can offer just the motivation one needs to keep on writing.

But over the years, I can see that journal-writing as a practice has benefits far broader than just “making it to the next notebook”:

Journaling helps me keep my focus on things that matter to me. Even if my days are filled with errands and obligations, journaling helps me keep making baby-steps of progress on my goals.

Journaling helps me identify what my true feelings are, and where they are coming from, everything from jealousy to ambition. When our feelings are misunderstood or misplaced, it can be confusing and frustrating that we act in ways we can’t explain. Knowing myself helps me to have compassion for myself, and allows me to grow.

All of these great benefits, and more, are not something that can be guaranteed in 30 days, or in 100 pages of writing. The impact of journaling cannot be measured in the number of words or entries one has written. Journaling is not a product that we produce. It is a method for the accounting of one’s life. It is a process that takes time for exploration and discovery.

And like any process that takes time, little games and arbitrary measurements (“Look! I’m on my 208th notebook!”) can help us stay on course when the process gets challenging.

Journaling as a Practice in Mindfulness

Journaling and MeditationJournaling is often compared to the habit of meditation. Many journal-writers report receiving the same benefits as those who practice meditation on a regular basis: Stress relief, an increased ability to focus, self-understanding, awareness of inner dialogue, and clarity of thought, to name a few. Here’s a simple exercise you can try as a journaling meditation:

  1. Start by opening to a fresh clean page in your journal. While taking a deep breath to begin, take a moment to notice and appreciate the empty page.
  2. Rest the tip of your pen onto the page, and select a simple first word or phrase to become a focus during your meditation. Write the word(s) slowly.
  3. Allow your pen to move gently; watch the ink get absorbed onto the page. While you continue selecting thoughts or phrases, don’t worry if they are not full sentences. Simply allow yourself to drop your thoughts, one phrase at a time, as if they are being caught in a net.
  4. If there is a pause, or a moment between words, take the opportunity to reconnect with your breath. Notice your inhale and exhale. Let your attention rest on the tip of your pen, allowing it to pull out the next word for you. Allow your pen to move, as if holding the cursor of a Ouija board, channeling wisdom from you inner spirit.

There are times when journaling can be soothing and relaxing. Just as journaling can raise new ideas and creativity, it can also be used to quiet the mind. Instead of only focusing our journal-writing on all the chatter in our heads, an exercise like this one can help to move into a calm state. Sometimes poetry will leak onto the page using this technique.

One-Year Celebration of JournalTalk

JT_OneYear_StarHappy First Anniversary! This episode is dedicated to you, the JournalTalk listeners, and all your collective wisdom about journaling. We’ve been podcasting together, talking about journaling, for twelve months, and I’m sharing voice messages from fans across the world.

Another celebration: I’ve completed my instructor certification from the Center for Journal Therapy, and now taking registrations for my first “Journal To The Self” workshop, a tutorial on 22 different journaling techniques, based on the work of Kathleen Adams. Register here, or get more information about this amazing course that has helped people begin their own lifetime practice of effective journal-writing.

Book Review: Albert Diaz Cruz shares his review of Writing From the Body by John LeePlease leave a comment below to enter the drawing for a copy of this book mailed to you for free!  (JournalTalk, Episode #25, February 16, 2014)

Audio Editing: Netrix Marketing
Music: AudioNetwork.com
Voiceover: Kym Maher, Tami Egbert & Thomas Gerrard

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Lynda Monk on JournalTalk

Journaling in Groups


It’s one thing to achieve personal transformation through the act and habit of journaling.  But there’s a new trend emerging among journal-writers: taking that transformation to the level of community.  My guest this episode is Lynda Monk, who has been journaling with her friends for several years, and ready to launch a book on the experience, Writing Alone Together:  Women Journaling for Creativity, Compassion and Community.

Lynda has been a Social Worker in Canada, for over 20 years, including 10 years of crisis intervention and counseling work.  In 2000, she founded Creative Wellness — a coaching and training business specializing in supporting the stress and burnout prevention needs of helping and healthcare professionals.  In 2009, Lynda became a Certified Co-Active Life Coach, and turned her passion for the transformational and healing power of therapeutic journaling into the heart of her business.  She offers “Writing for Wellness” workshops, presentations and coaching programs to  helpers, healers, caregivers and conscious-living enthusiasts.

Her company provides access to a wealth of resources for both the individual as well as organizations that seek enlivened practice and healthy living.   Her “Writing for Wellness: Getting Started Guide” (available for free on her website) is an impressive introduction to the art of therapeutic journaling, and is just one of the free resources she offers.

As you listen to my interview with Lynda, we’ll explore a powerful dynamic of journaling within the context of community.  Lynda touches on the power of storytelling, and encourages us to consider beginning our own journaling circle, for many of the same reasons a book enthusiast would join a book club.  I also appreciated the way Lynda so beautifully acknowledged how this podcast series itself is a project of community-building amongst journaling advocates.  (JournalTalk, Episode #11, July 22, 2013)

Music: Alexander L’Estrange / Joanna Forbes ”Ooh Yeah” AudioNetwork.com
Voiceover: Tami Egbert and Kym Maher
Logo Art: Wendy Kipfmiller, Snixysnix.com

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