I’ve been journaling for as long as I can write. As a young girl, I remember countless notebooks with brass-colored locks into which I would furiously scribble all my thoughts and feelings.
I also had copybooks and scrapbooks. They were journals too. In them I pasted poems and stories, desires and dreams.
I’ve kept up this habit all my life. And wherever I go I seek out and buy beautiful notebooks into which I can pour my tangled reflections.
Even my partner and child know that, after a book, the best gift to buy me is something to journal in.
Sometimes, what I write is just whining. Other times I’m trying to figure out a moment or a mood.
I also fill notebooks up with plot lines or plans for my business. This is journaling to me. I don’t draw the line at a particular type of content. It’s all expressive writing. And if it flows down from my cerebral cortex onto the page, allowing me to make even the slightest sense of myself – it’s journaling!
Journaling is a wonderful tool for writers. But it’s also a great gift to adopt if you see yourself as a time-poor, stressed out solopreneur.
Because it createstime – rather than wasting time (as you might believe.)
Writing in an expressive, honest way can help you move through the mire of your mind. It can help you achieve enough clarity in your day-to-day to start focusing on true goals.
And if writing your book about your business is one of those goals, then without a doubt, consistent journaling will help.
Natalie Goldberg, for instance, practiced stream of consciousness writing every day until she finally saw that what she had was the start of a novel.
Virginia Woolf was always much more intentional about it. She wrote: “The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”
That’s the beauty of journaling: There is no one way to do it right.
Or at least, there are many ways to do it right, with each way yielding unforeseen benefits.
Still not sure it’s for you? Well, I beg to differ.
Whether you need a tool to help you grow your business or are actively looking for something to spur you on to writing your book, here are seven reasons why journaling may be your answer:
I already mentioned above that journaling can help you clear your mind.
Even if you start off on a writing rant, the actual act of committing thoughts to paper can help to reduce stress.
And once your fear or anger is below boiling point, the more you write the clearer your thoughts will become. You’ll be able to see solutions where before there were only problems.
A regular journaling habit will help you continue working through fuzzy thinking. And it will help organize your thoughts in a focused and coherent manner.
Just as Natalie Goldberg’s ‘free writing’ led her all the way to her book Banana Rose, your journaling can help you crank up your own creativity.
Giving yourself time – whether it’s 10 or 30 minutes – to sit and journal, pulls you from the narrow focus of routine tasks to the wide, wonderful world of your inner life.
As you write, ideas you thought not yet fully formed, may suddenly come to the fore.
You might discover a new way of approaching an old problem. Or come up with a whole host of creative solutions to boost your business and your life.
Joan Didion famously wrote, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”
By journaling, you too may find yourself tapping into the truth of your inner voice. In doing so you’ll reveal some of the deepest dreams, desires, and hopes that you’ve been nursing.
One of the reason you may have difficulty sitting down to write your book or even moving forward in your business is because you’re feeling anxious.
Anxiety can be debilitating. Author of The Anxiety Tool-Kit, Alice Boyes, Ph.D., writes how anxiety can contribute to procrastination and unfounded fears of tackling certain tasks.
You begin to overestimate how much the dreaded task will take, and underestimate the accomplishments you’ve already achieved.
The benefit of journaling here is that it enables you is to query those estimations and to take a broader view of what might actually be going on.
As you write you may discover your anxiety is related to a fear of failure or letting people down.
Writing this out gives you the opportunity to release worries and negative thoughts. And find more positive and practical solutions for finally dealing with the task at hand.
We don’t all known ourselves as thoroughly as we think. However, the more we write about ourselves and our understanding of the world around us, the better able we are to honestly assess situations and experiences.
We may start to see another’s point of view. Or understand why we don’t and never will.
Using journaling as a form of structured reflection, we can process puzzling situations to finally see the next step.
We’re provided with insight. We find reminders of the challenges we’ve overcome as well as reasons to be grateful now.
I love to write out lists.
I typically list five prioritiesto work on each day (and no more!)
But there are days when I sit down at my desk tired, stressed, questioning my ambitions, feeling muddled.
On those days I tend to reach for my journal. I use it to review and assess my daily to-do-list along with my dreams and goals.
The deeper I dig into the vision I have for my business and life, the clearer it comes into focus. And I can return to my work rejuvenated, and more aligned with all I have to do.
If you have days when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing – I suggest you flip open your journal and just start writing too.
Perhaps one of the most surprising benefits of expressive writing is the positive impact it has on your health.
Studieshave shown that along with the long-term improvements journaling has on stress levels and anxiety, it can also increase your ability to fight an array of illnesses from asthma to arthritis.
The theory is that you use your journal as a means to manage or move on from challenging events and emotions. This reduces stress and thus strengthens immune function.
We all have a story to tell. We might share our stories through our work or other areas of our lives. And that voice is rich with belief, hope, experience, and our own personal expertise.
Honing that voice in writing means figuring out what we want to offer the world, and receive in return.
It gives us, as the author of The Story You Need to Tell, Sandra Marinella, says: “Insights into who we are, who we were, and who we can become.”
And figuring out who we are and what we have to offer to the world, is perhaps the best of all reasons to journal.