Journaling, like Meditation, cannot be done wrong.
No, really. You do not have to “learn how to journal. You just need to do it. Many of us like to find a special pen, a special book, the right lighting, the perfect chair… and then we will start spilling our guts. You are welcome to do that (I had those tools for years) but, I’d rather you find a ratty old notebook your kids didn’t finish, a pen from the doctor’s office, and get to work.
My Preferred Tools:
I don’t need to keep my journals. These conversations with myself and the cosmos are private and I don’t want to censor myself. So I use loose paper. I write with abandon, because I know I am going to tear the paper into little unreadable pieces when I’m done. Now I will admit, I do like nicer paper, a good pen and a sturdy clip board.
When I do write something amazing that I want to keep, I copy it onto clean paper or into a permanent journal that I can go back to. See below for what I use. It’s worked for years.
Tul Junior Refillable Notebook (5.5X8) The paper is great quality, and the notebook system works for meetings, client notes, archive and digital images for Evernote.
Note: There are a million guided journals on the market for projects, meditations, or gratitude, for example. Again, none of it matters… just grab a pen and paper and create that relationship with yourself.
Morning Pages For Journaling
Way back in the 1990s, Julia Cameron wrote an amazing book called “The Artists Way.” It was a runaway hit with the self help, creative crowd. But the exercise that has stood the test of time, is Julia’s take on journaling.
“Morning Pages.” is the stuff of miracles (see video above for my take on the exercise). Every client who takes my suggestion to try this practice, raves about the results. It is one of the few things that need no reminder.
1) Grab a pen and paper and write for 15/20 minutes every day. Write stream of consciousness, keep writing, don’t stop. (I do not time, I do 3 pages of 5.5X8 paper - see tools above)
2) Don’t judge, don’t censor (I advise loose paper to throw away when done). Let your subconscious take over. It will.
3) If stuck, write “I don’t know what to write,” or “good morning morning pages.” If your’re mad at somebody, start with that. If you have a question of the universe, start there.
4) Throw away the sheets. Let go of the garbage thinking. Rewrite clean notes of the insights. Move on with your day.
A Few Insights from Julia Cameron
“Morning pages are nonnegotiable. Never skip or skimp on your morning pages. Your mood doesn’t matter. The rotten thing your Censor says doesn’t matter. We have this idea that we need to be in the mood to write. We don’t.
Morning pages will teach you that your mood doesn’t matter. Some of the best creative work gets done on the days when you feel that everything you’re doing is just plain junk. The morning pages will teach you to stop judging and just let yourself write. So what if you’re tired, crabby, distracted, stressed? Your artist is a child and it needs to be fed. Morning pages feed your artist child. So write your morning pages.”
Julia says: “When people ask, ‘Why do we write morning pages?’ I joke, ‘To get to the other side.’ They think I am kidding, but I’m not. Morning pages do get us to the other side: the other side
of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods. Above all, they get us beyond our Censor. Beyond the reach of the Censor’s babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own.”