“Yet somehow I did get my act together and, although I can’t explain how or why, slowly and imperceptibly a sort of magic began to happen. Change took a little time and I must admit, at first I struggled to stay on board. My grief would surface and tears would blind me as I tried to write, yet the words kept flowing and it didn’t matter that I repeated myself as I filled those waiting, listening empty pages.”
Maggie Jeffery, on her journaling practice — CreateWriteNow.com
“Those waiting, listening empty pages” — what a lovely phrase and how apt: Journaling has a long and storied history. Many great writers, from Virginia Woolf to John Steinbeck, kept journals to play with ideas, keep track of their writing progress, and puzzle out thorny plot or character issues.
While some writers still use journaling to help fuel specific writing projects, today more and more people are embracing this powerful writing tool as a form of self-discovery and self-care. Whether they are coping with grief, confronting major life changes, struggling to manage stress, or reconnecting with long-hidden emotions, both adults and children are finding that putting their thoughts and feelings on paper can be both restorative and illuminating. Growing research supports the power of this approach. Regularly expressing thoughts in writing allows people to:
Identify unproductive behavioral patterns and areas where they are “stuck” so that they can take action to address them.
Articulate and focus scattered thoughts so they can begin to discover what they really value and want — and how to accomplish their goals.
Release fears, resentments, regrets, and old wounds so they can begin to move forward and shape a more positive, fulfilling life.
Find strength and renewed sense of purpose in the face of grief and overpowering loss.
For many aspiring authors and journaling enthusiasts, using the “Morning Pages” approach described in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has proven to be a great path to tapping their creativity and brushing away their mental cobwebs. Online resources have also sprung up to provide specific tools and prompts to give those new to journaling a helping hand. Mari McCarthy’s CreatWriteNow.com is one site that offers a host of gently supportive tips, ebooks, and interviews. Write on!