3 Key Benefits of Keeping a Journal

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3 Key Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Why keep a Journal?

Be more productive, add more value, get more followers, make more money. This is what we are told over and over again by everyone and his cat. In this climate, the simple act of keeping a journal can feel like a waste of time.
 
No one will ever see it and it won’t get you any closer to your dream of a creative happy life. Who has time for something that doesn’t bring instant results? 15-20 minutes spent writing a journal is time you’ll never get back. Time is money people! You’ve got to spend every last minute adding something to the bottom line.
But here is the irony. Keeping a journal will give you focus, emotional release and clarity about your life. All things which will help you to do more of the things you love. And it will help you do the things you need to in order to get closer to your creative, financial and lifestyle dreams.
 

Three Key Benefits of Keeping a Journal

1. A daily writing practice.

If your dream is to write then a journal is the perfect way to start getting closer to that dream. – Note I didn’t say “be a writer” that whole “be” word can feel like a weight around your neck. We can get stuck worrying about whether we have some cosmic right to claim that title for ourselves or not. When honestly it doesn’t matter. Write or don’t write. There is no “being a writer”. Or something.
 
Where was I? Oh yes, you want to write. Keeping a journal is writing. There is a school of thought which says you should practice your writing in public, and a blog is a great place to do that. But practice is a thing you do in private, where no one else gets to see.
 
If you are struggling to write, why add the pressure of trying to write something for other people to read? You wouldn’t practice the violin in public hoping people might want to come along and listen. Why do we think writing practice is a waste of time?

2. Hone your writing skills.

For me keeping a journal is mostly a matter of training myself to put pen to paper and keep writing whatever. All the random trains of thought, distractions and unresolved emotional stuff, have been known to stop me doing that.
 
I’ll write a sentence and then get lost in reverie about some random thing someone said a week earlier. In my journal I trained myself to put those on paper, rather than getting tripped up by them. And over time there are fewer distracting memories so I can stick to original train of thought and see it through to its destination.
 
Having learnt to show up and stay present on the page, I am now working of different elements of writing craft as well. I work on metaphor creation and try to get my head around how to write the sensory world we live in. Or whatever I know is lacking in my creative writing efforts. 

3. Give your negative emotions a place to go.

I wrote last year about how the tiredness and overwhelm of early motherhood made it hard to be happy (see here). There were unprocessed emotions and situations which were difficult to deal with around that time.
 
Trying to be positive or have more gratitude doesn’t work. There’s psychological research to back that up (try reading Emotional Agility by Susan David as a good place to start). It also strikes me as dishonest. I’m pissed off about xyz, but you know gotta be positive. But I don’t want to be negative and turn into a complainer that is toxic for both yourself and your children.
 
I found (and still do) that I have to go THROUGH the negative stuff before I can find the positivity and the gratitude. We have it all back to front. You don’t have to TRY to be positive. You just have to quit trying not to be negative. Own your negativity as part of the human experience and find a way to process it and come out the other side where your positive self was waiting all along.
 
You need to make sure the negative has a safe place to go. Somewhere where it will do the least amount of damage. I touched on this concept in regards to fear (here). Fear, guilt, self doubt, and anger are all a part of being human. If you want to produce effective creative writing then getting in touch with your own human condition can only help you to write better about the human condition.
 
And if you are dealing with creative block there’s almost certainly some negative stuff you need to unload. Rather than bringing other’s down too, get as ugly as you like on a blank page. And trust me, when you hit the really good stuff, the words will flow.

Join me this June to Kickstart your Journal Keeping Habit

Journal ChallengeJournaling is a cornerstone habit in my personal journey towards freedom and transformation. It helps me to move past creative block, and get clear on who I am as a person. I don’t do it every day (shh, don’t tell anyone) and I don’t follow a particular programme or style. But I do have some thoughts on what is working and why.

 I have kept a journal on and off throughtout my life. Journaling my raw, unedited thoughts and emotions has helped me at key times to move forward. For too many years I didn’t keep a journal, or do much writing at all.  In the last 18 months or so that has changed.
 
Being a reflective type I’ve thought a lot about what changed. What have I done differently to help the habit stick? As I also read a lot I began to read about how different writers and creatives have used journaling in their lives.
 
So, this June I’m issuing you a 30 day challenge to kick start your own practice of keeping a journal. If you’d like to join me pop your email address in the box below. You’ll get one short, easy to digest thought or journal prompt everyday in June. As well as an inspirational quote about the art of journaling. And it’s totally free of charge.
Find out more here. And sign up below.

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  • I do have a journal which I’ve added to at different points since having the children, but I have to admit that since starting the blog I barely pick it up any more. I loved your line: “Having learnt to show up and stay present on the page”. It’s such a critical stage of the writing process and one that I need to work on for sure. Great challenge. Thanks for linking up with #DreamTeam x

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! Sometimes blogging can take precedence and a journal that no one will read seems like a waste of time. But I think we need that private space to explore our hearts if we want to break through to the next level of whatever we want out of life!
      Thanks for your comment.

  • Fi Cooper

    This is an ace idea! I used to keep a diary (as it was called back then, a long time ago) as most teenagers do but I haven’t for years. Though I blog it’s really not the same thing at all. I’ll give this a go!

    • Great! I think blogs are great but real heart work needs the privacy of a journal that no one else will see. Maybe that why it appeals to teens. At that age we’re going through so much stuff we need a non-judgmental place to offload. Of course we still need that as adults through!